Our Winter, Their Summer

It’s beginning to cool down and winter is on it’s way here in Salt Lake City, while across the globe Summer is creeping in on Mama and the Totes.

There are several new kids at the orphanage. The last update I received Mama has 20 children at the orphanage. The 6 new toddlers from a month ago are still here. I don’t know how she does it!

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This toddler was brought in by the police. Mama does not know her name. She asked me what my name is. I said Margaret, she said I will call her Margaret. While we were here, the dad came to visit. He wanted to take the baby with him, but he needs permission from the police. It was very traumatic for this baby to see her dad and them have him leave her.

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There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about the kids and Mama. I hope her health is well and the kids are getting all the love they need. I miss them so!

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Help is always needed…

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I was able to talk with Dominic and Moipone this morning for about an hour and get details about Mama and the kids. My heart sank as I heard the condition of some of the kids and what they are dealing with. I wish so badly I could snap my fingers and be there to help take care of them.

There are so many things that need to happen and my mind and heart are frantically trying to get organized and prioritize the most critical things first. It’s very difficult when all their needs are number one.

Right now it is winter time. The children are in need of sweaters, shoes, warmer clothes. Even though it’s still about 70 degrees, it’s so cold for them. Most of the children have gotten Impetigo again. They had it around the same time last year. Impetigo is Impetigo, one of the most common skin infections among kids, usually produces blisters or sores on the face, neck, hands, and diaper area. They crack and bleed, itch, and are so uncomfortable.  We have been able to get the children the antibiotic for it. It’s a cream but the hard part is making sure they are applying it regularly and watching it. Some of the kids have been asked to stay home from school due to the impetigo. The teachers do not want other students contracting it.

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This is Esa and the back of her head is covered with impetigo.

It can be prevented with good hygiene, hand washing, clean sheets, and clothes. All of which are so difficult to regulate there at the orphanage. Once someone has it, they are more susceptible  to getting it again.

One of the little boys has a broken hand. He went out with other kids to a park and was chased by an ostrich and somehow broke his hand. He hasn’t had treatment for over a week! This little 8 year old boy needs a cast and isn’t able to get one. Luckily, we are taking him tomorrow to a private clinic/hospital and going to get it taken care of.  I just hope he doesn’t have any permanent damage or need surgery. I can’t imagine how painful that is for him! Bless his heart.

Mama is in sad spirits. My dear friends who live close to the orphanage said that she isn’t doing well. There’s so much going on and it’s hard for her to do it all.  She recently just had three more children arrive. One five year old boy, a two year old girl, and a six month old girl.

There are many things I want to try and implement and see if those things can help Mama and the kids. It will take some time and effort on those who live locally, but I am determined to make things better for these beautiful and helpless children. They are too dear to me not to.

Please help make the lives of these kids a little easier and donate to a wonderful cause. The money raised go to medicine for kids like Esa who is suffering from impetigo and several others at the orphanage.

Click here to donate…

I want to be a philanthropist

 

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What does it take to become a philanthropist? I often wonder if you have to have millions of dollars, know the right people, move to a third world country, or maybe just throw everything I have into what I believe. 

The philanthropists I know of are actresses, actors, investors, successful business people; like Warren Buffett, Oprah, or Angelina Joli. But what about the “regular” people who want to make a difference but find it almost impossible because everything costs loads of money?

That’s where I find myself. I’m in my early thirties, a single mother, rarely have excess monies, and am usually trying to help those who are less fortunate. I think I have found my calling in life (other than being a mother) and want to help children without a bright future. 

Two years ago I was introduced to a small, run down orphanage in the township of Tembisa, in South Africa. My parents served an LDS mission in Johannesburg, South Africa for eighteen months. While on their mission, they volunteered and took this humble orphanage under their wings until it was time to return to the States. 

The Bulamahalo orphanage belongs to a sweet and selfless woman named Regana Sekgobela. She is sixty-eight and has been taking care and raising parent-less children for the last twenty-three years. “Mama” (as they call Regana) is a seamstress. She is so talented and has put her sewing talent to rest to take care of ten – thirty children in the township of Tembisa. A widow and a mother to two son’s, Mama’s life is surrounded by little brown faces; tiny babies up to young adults. Mama never turns anyone away and never says no. She would literally give the shirt off her back.

My parents shared Mama’s story and the needs of the children with me March of 2011. From the first story my mom told me, I knew I had to do something. The fact that these children do not have food to eat on a regular basis was enough for me to drop what I was doing and go to action. They were lucky if they had two meals a day. These meals consist of “pap” and maybe some chicken scrapes to add flavor. No treats, no snacks, no nutrients. My heart sank. 

What can I do? How can I do it? Where am I going to get money to help these children? Who will help me, help them? I don’t have the money to start this project. Does this have to be something major? Small? Do I want it to grow and become so large I can’t wrap my brain around it? Will this work? Yes, this is going to work. Why? Because I believe in it. 

I started researching. I looked up how to become a “non profit”. What it takes, what you need to do, who needs to be involved. To my surprise it’s very difficult to become a non profit. There are so many forms, steps, council with attorneys, pay loads of money, tax forms, etc etc. All I want to do is raise money to feed helpless orphans in South Africa … and it seemed impossible. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t discouraged after researching. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many things to get in order just to make it so people can write off their donations. I wondered why people couldn’t just donate to donate. It seemed to go against the whole idea of being selfless and choosing to help those less fortunate. I was expecting much. In fact, I didn’t have any set expectations or goal of how much money I wanted to raise. You see, the difference between the U.S. dollar and the South African Rand is different that one U.S. dollar is eight Rand. So $6.00 in the U.S. would be about R70. That’s a lot of money to people in South Africa. 

We got to work and we’re only looking forward. One of my friends came up with the name Tembisa Tots. It was perfect! My little girl was excited to help and get her class involved too. 

If all of my Facebook friends (over 1100 people) would donate $5, that would be an easy $5,000 to go toward the Tembisa Tots. That would feed the kids for over 4 years. We can feed those children a decent meal(s) for about $200 a month! A month! 

The fall of 2011, we started fundraising. Starting at a grass roots level we were on our way. Philanthropists have to start somewhere, right?! From home made poster making, cutting flyers, bake sales, presenting at schools, giving presentations within the community, creating a website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and help from family and friends we were gaining momentum. 

I was so energized. I was loving every minute of planning, updating posts, photos, making videos, spreading the word. All I wanted to do was get more and more people to hear our story and fall in love with these little children I hadn’t even met yet. 

We had made plans to visit my parents in December and most excitingly meet Mama and the kids! We were going to visit for about 3 weeks. 

With the help from friends, family, people I hadn’t ever met before, we were able to raise about $2,500. I was so pleased with that and couldn’t wait to share it with Mama and those children. 

That was the start of this wonderful and life changing journey… and I can’t seem to stop! I hope I can continue helping Mama and these children. I just have to keep thinking of ways to generate a larger audience.