Mona, the little one and a half year old in the picture to the right captured my heart the first day that I met her at the orphanage. She sat in a white onsie with pastel flowers that was too big for her. Her arms hung at her side, she seemed stuck and very despondent. I reached out to pick her up and immediately felt compassion for this little baby. I was told later that she was malnourished and neglected. She had never crawled or walked and she was one and a half.
I decided the first day I met her that I was going to teach her how to walk. We have been together every day since. She knows me and calls me Mami. Her face lights up when she sees me and she loves to make faces at me with her tongue.
At first, when I tried to teach her how to walk, she would sob because it was uncomfortable for her and new for her. I was thinking, I understand how you are feeling! I feel the same way being here in Africa! Here in Africa, I am surrounded by poverty like I have never seen. It can be overwhelming and I continually pray for God’s grace and joy in face of suffering.
As Mona and I continued to spend time together, I found that she would do things with me that she would not do with other people. She began to stand up for me while she would not do that with the occupational therapist. As she began to trust me, she allowed me to lead her in new ways.
I spent three amazing weeks at the orphanage and most of my time was spent with Mona! She has grown so much and she has such a great sense of humor! She makes me laugh every time that I am with her. And she is so excited every time I walk into the room.
It has been difficult to leave her as I moved on to my position with the School of Hope. I am very thankful for my position at this school. I am helping the social worker and counselor of the school to work with the students. This high school was started to meet the need of students who did not finish high school for various reasons and have no place to go. Many of the students dropped out, were kicked out, or struggled with drug addiction. A lot of the students are abandoned by their families. This school offers the students a second chance at their education and gives them hope for their futures.
We all need second chances for different areas of our lives and I am so thankful to be a part of the loving and gracious team that serves the school. All of the teachers and the principal have amazing faith and perseverance! They all have faith for the students and pray continually for God to meet all of their needs. And God does meet their needs in miraculous ways. Some days we don't know how we are going to feed the kids and God provides a way. And some days we don't have any money to pay for transport and it comes through in time....
I will continue to let you in as I get to know the students more!