I find myself thinking of the small orphanage I have learned to love over the past couple of years every day. Whether it’s in the early morning while I lay in my warm, cozy bed, or at lunch time while I eat in a local shop knowing I will be fully stasistified after my meal. Or at night when I help my daughter get ready for bed; turning on the warm water and helping her brush her hair and teeth.
My South African little family is living such a different life than I. How I wish I could drive down the street and check on them. Help them with every day tasks and especially be there to love and hug them.
Reminiscing about the first time I saw their faces and met them brings a smile to my face. It’s been such a blessing to help them and watch them grow through photos, emails, and occassional phone conversations!
This was the first time meeting Mama. We met December 2011. I can’t believe it’s been three years since I first went to Tembisa, South Africa. She is as gentle as an angel. Her warmth and love just radiats. Her smile is inviting and her energy is contagious. I am so happy to know this woman.
These children hold a special place in my heart. This is Mbali. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her photo. Her mother had given her to the orphange when she was about 3 months old. Her grandmother takes care of her when she can but Mbali had spent a lot of time with Mama. When I held her for the first time, we instantly bonded. She stared at my face and touched my mouth as I told her how beautiful she was. It broke my heart knowing that she was left with Mama and her little future is undetermined.
I was able to see Mbali a few more times during my visit. The second time I went to South Africa Mbali was with her grandma and they had moved to a different township. I still wonder how this darling little one is doing. If her mother ever came back into her life. If her grandmother will be able to take care of her, provide for her, educate her, and help her create a successful future. So many questions… not only are these questions about Mbali, but questions I have for every single one of the kids at the orphanage.
Over the last three years there has been much work at the orphanage. Conditions were so poor when I fist visited and with so many loving people, donations, hard work and dedication we have been able to help Mama turn her home into a safer and better environment for raising these children.
Not only has the appearance of the orphanage change dramtically, but we have been able to build additional aminities! A small building was built for a library! The garden has been re-done and is now flurished and helps bring in fresh food for Mama and the kids. Secure doors, flood lights for the evening, cabniets for the kids, and many visitors who keep Mama and the kids smiling and healthy.
Every once and awhile I am able to hear Mama’s voice and her laugh over the phone. My dear friends Dominic and his lovely wife Moipone are my eyes, hands, ears, and heart while I live here in the United States and they are close to Mama and the kids. I have feared that Mama would soon forget me and my love for her and the kids, but I am lucky and she still asks about me, wants me to visit, and asks Dominic and Moipone about me and my daughter each time they visit. I just adore her and pray for her every single day.
Right now, Mama wants to build a three story building. She has a certificate from the planning commission giving her the okay. She also had drawings to renovate making private bedrooms. We hope a local construction company is helping her and will allow her to get government certification with funding.
There are still things we are working on. I keep in touch with Mama and her needs often. It’s my goal to go back and visit her and the kids. Currently she has 19 children to care for and love. They range from one year to sixteen years old. Mama is now 69 years old and doing a job that would be difficult for a young woman. She is surely being watched over and able to care for these children who depend on her so much.