Here, a story about one of the 48 orphans of St. Joseph’s in Tanzania to whom we have committed our time, talent, treasure, love and support:
On October 15, 2008, a 24-year-old single woman gave birth to her fth child. Like most women living in the rural villages of Tanzania, she had never seen a doctor and delivered at home with only the help of a traditional midwife. However, there were complications, and due to a lack of knowledge and an inability to get to a proper health facility, she bled to death. Her baby girl was born tiny, frail and barely breathing. Friends rushed the child hours away to Sister Crispina Mnate, a Catholic nun and trained nurse who had founded the St. Joseph’s Orphanage (SJO) a few years earlier. Sister received the child, cleared
her lungs and placed her in a room with “Mamee,” Sister’s head matron. In accordance with Tanzanian custom, Mamee—now the “mother”—and the child, now called Irene, stayed in that room for the next three months during which time Sister ministered to them daily. Once it became clear that Irene would survive, Sister went to the village to see Irene’s grandmother. The grandmother refused to take the child, saying she was too old and too poor to raise any more children. That day Sister made a decision that she never had before and never has since: She agreed to take Irene, but only if she could also take Irene’s 2-year-old brother Isaak. Why? She didn’t want Irene to grow up without any “real” family of her own.
Today, Irene and Isaak are thriving at SJO. Irene is a leader amongst her peers and adores playing “mommy” to all the babies. She excels in her studies and is a dynamic and charismatic little girl. Isaak is clever and funny, loves sports and music and is always running around laughing with his siblings at SJO.
Last month, Unite’s Board Members Debbie Wiley and Kim Merriman and I arrived at SJO in time to celebrate Irene’s 8th birthday. We sang, tried unsuccessfully to light an old candle and handed out lollipops. We wanted to do so much more... to run to the local store and buy a cake, a doll, new shoes, etc., but Sister reminded us that indulging in
such luxuries for one would be unfair to the rest. Instead, the best way that we, Unite,
can honor and celebrate Irene, and all the orphans of St. Joseph’s, is to keep working...
to replace and repair the roofs so they don’t have to sleep with buckets by their beds; to install proper toilets, water systems and showers so they can avoid the many illnesses that come from poor hygeine and sanitation; to complete the Heaven School to provide the best education possible for the youngest orphans and surrounding village children; to nd sponsors to cover school fees through university; and to stick with them... to keep coming back, so that these precious children—all of whom are as loveable, talented and worthy as our own—know that they are loved and cherished by a growing family around the world. And so that is what we are doing, with your help.... one step at a time.
Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season. With love & gratitude,