I’ve been here in Tanzania over 6 months! In some waysits so hard to believe, but in other ways it feels so much like home. I wanted to do a little blog recapping the arrivals and departures of little treasures, so here it is! Even though many of them won’t remember their time atNeema, it’s crazy to think about how crucial this time of care is. It’s also a really big responsibility, loving in the “in between” time. Loving without restraint, even knowing it’s so temporary.The first arrival was Maxine, which I already wrote a whole blog about. If you missed it you can find it here.
The first departure was Bryony, now called Sifa (praise). She went home with her new mama and baba shortly after I arrived at Neema. She was only about 7 months old and very quiet. She had big eyes and an even bigger smile. Her mom has brought her by a few times to visit, and sometimes we even see her at church! She’s growing very well.
The next departure was sweet little Praygod. Pray was about a year and a half and had a loving father and 3 siblings who finally felt ready to welcome him home. As is the case with too many mothers, Pray’s mom died during delivery. Though I only got to spend just over a month with him, he had a special place in my heart with his contagious giggle and thunder thighs.
Next up was an arrival,Tumaini.Tumaini means hope in Swahili, and I think it is such a beautiful name for this little boy.Tuma came to us at just 4 days old after being found by a fence on the outskirts of town. The head nurse at the government hospital named him, and what a perfect fit for this baby who was found and saved. The police have since found his mother, and she is in a counseling program. She abandon her baby in fear, and hopefully with this counseling,Tuma will eventually going home. I have enjoyed watching this baby grow and develop each day. He has a big smile, and loves to laugh, and rarely cries.Just one day after Tuma arrived we picked up Baraka, my little blessing. You can read about him here and here and here.
In the middle of December we welcomeMemusi, a little Maasai girlwho’s mother had passed away. She cried a lot at first, but has settled in atNeema. We think she’s about 6 months old, and she is very clever. When she smiles it takes up most of her face!At the beginning of February, on a day that came too soon in my eyes, Baraka went home with his new Mom and Dad. You can read more about that here.
On the last day of February, Sarah went home with her new Mom and Dad! This couple is from Italy and had lived in Tanzania for three years. Frederica, Sarah’s new mom, spent every day for the month of Feb at Neema. It was wonderful getting to know her, and to watch as Sarah bonded with her mom. It was a beautiful time of rejoicing when they were able to bring her home.
When we went to the hospital to pick up those two we were told about a little girl whose mother had just passed away in child birth. The father felt stuck, he had just lost his wife, and now he had no idea how he was going to care for his new baby girl. When the hospital told him about Neema house he decided it would be a good place for Doris, his daughter, to stay for awhile. When we told him, and encouraged him, to come as often as he would like, he smiled and thanked us so much. He kissed Doris many times before leaving, and I could tell, though he was happy to have her safe, his heart was breaking.
About a week after Doris came to Neema we were visited by a couple of the nurses from the Lutheran hospital where we take our sick babies. They told us of a woman they had just been caring for who had passed away, but she had a young son. The father was unable to care for his son and had no family living near by. So a few days later, 4.5 month old Bakari came to stay at Neema a little while. The first day was very hard for him, with being in a new place and learning to drink from bottles and sleeping in his own little bed. But as a few days have passed he is settling in very well and is really a sweet little baby. He’s only about a week older than little Tuma, and I think it will be good for them to develop together.
Finally, in this surge of new arrivals, little Matilda Grace arrived. Matilda was born at a hospital in a nearby area and her mother left her there. A midwife that we had met at church happened to be working at the hospital and ended up taking Matilda home (and naming her) because this hospital had no procedure for abandon babies. Matilda came to us at 9 days old and only weighing about 5 lbs. She is very beautiful, and has a very sweet composure. She rarely cries and is generally happy. She even smiles a lot in her sleep.Currently we are at 30 babies! Eleven of them are under one year. It’s so crazy for me to realize this is what I do. Every day I go and feed a hundred bottles and change a zillion diapers and give a billion kisses. This is my life. Each time a child leaves, I grieve, but also whenever a child arrives is a time of grieving. So many of these children have started out with very rough lives, way more than their little hearts and bodies should have to deal with. But I hope with each day, with each meal, with each hug and kiss they know they are loved.