Thursday, September 20, 2007

News from Kenya

Just got a text message from Caito and Ema in Kenya. They have been giving out cards with Ema's story on it and a phone number. They got two text messages today from a teacher they met in a village near Busia:

1)Hi I am looking and i have found somebody who says he knows that man. I will let you know as soon as I can contact him.

2)I have established that the guy Richard Juma belongs to a group of people that live far of from this area. By tomorrow afternoon i will give you a good report.

Hope is alive an well in all of us! Caito and Ema are doing fine. Their trip west from Nairobi was not easy though! It was supposed to be 6 hours but it took almost 18. The roads were very very bad. They said that they have met so many nice people along the way.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ekesaa Goes Home

We know him as our beloved and incredibly kind Emmanuel, or Ema for short. About 18 years ago though, (he doesn't know his true age) he was called Ekesaa. He doesn’t remember Kenya, where he was born, nor does he remember his father or two older brothers, but he very much wants to find them. His Tanzanian mother left Kenya with baby Ekesaa and took him to live in Moshi, Tanzania, renaming him Emmanuel. Ema's mother told him very little about his family, but did say that he should go look for them one day.

When Ema was about ten years old, angry and hungry, he stowed away on a bus going to Dar es Salaam. When he got caught, a kind woman paid his fare. He told her he had relatives in the city which he didn’t. He lived on the street for years in several different shelters. Once he made it home to Moshi where he found his mother “waiting for him”. She told him that she wanted to see him before she died and she died shortly after. He went back to Dar es Salaam. In 2003 he started school in Bagamoyo. He passed the national examinations to start secondary school in 2005, but the shelter where he was living could not afford to send him. At that time The Baobab Home took him, along with the guys who had become brothers to him, as part of our family.

Last December when we sent Ema back to Moshi for the holiday we encouraged him to get all the information he could about his family. He was told his father’s name ( Richard Juma Wasweta)and the names of his brothers(Unyango and Samson).

Caito and Ema left yesterday for Kenya by bus to begin the search for Ema's father and brothers. They didn't have many facts other than names. They know that Ema’s father fought for Tanzania during the war with Uganda during the Idi Amin years. Caito called this morning from Nairobi to say that they already determined what tribe Ema belongs to based on the name Wasweta. The tribe is from the town Buseto just outside of Busia on the border of Uganda. They were told that the tribe is well organized and even has a registry. Finding them at all will take luck, but getting the tribal connection is half the battle. All three alive after 18 years in the wake of HIV/AIDS and massive flooding is a lot to hope for, but we are all hopeful anyway.

We are so grateful to Jill and Alan Townsend of the U.K. and Shane Hofeldt and his coworkers in Maine, USA. Together they are paying for bus fare, food, printing costs for flyers and notice cards, hotel costs and any “tips” to people who help along the way. Thank you for making this possible!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Baby Naima

Mama Mwajuma is a single mother who lives close to the Baobab Home with her 9 and 5 year old daughters Mwajuma and Aisha and her 3 year old son, Abdul. Most people who visit BH remember Abdul because he carries a lot of worry on his young face. Last weekend Mama Mwajuma gave birth to Naima. She was only about 5 pounds, but is doing well. She had an 11th finger removed, but she will remain with all twelve of her twinkling toes.

Mama Mwajuma is HIV+ has been on Antiretroviral Therapy for some time so we are hopeful that Naima was not infected.

Dee and Al Hahn Rollins donated the money for Naima’s first few months of formula so Naima will not be breastfed at all, improving her chances of staying HIV free. We are hoping for another donation of about $160 so that Naima can get at least 6 months of formula. If she is doing well we will graduate her to porridge and milk at that time.

**Mama Mwajuma gave us permission to disclose her HIV status.

Summer Volunteers/Visitors Help A Lot

Summer is always a busy time for us. The boys are home for 5 weeks and we tend to have a lot of volunteers and visitors.

This summer Marjolijn joined us for her second visit to us and brought her friend Hilde (both from the Netherlands). They held down the fort at the breakfast program Monday through Friday. This job is not for the feint of heart because these kids have a LOT of energy!

Charlotte and Claire of the U.K. helped us care for Mama Habibu and her two special needs kids Habibu and Shabani. Charlotte and Claire built a set of shelves for them, helped clean the inside of the house, gave the boys exercise and love, and took them to the beach.

The money that the volunteers raised in their home countries before arriving has helped us a great deal. Marjolijn and Hilde’s funds went to help a boy get an operation. Charlotte and Claire’s donation went toward an income generating project for a mother with HIV. The money built a shelter so that she can raise ducks. We still have some set aside for other income generating projects.

Ans Groener also visited this summer from the Netherlands. Ans is a biologist and the guys, particularly William, were thrilled to meet a real scientist. Ans brought donations from home that helped us get everything the boys needed before going off to school. Dank u vel “ waholland” (thank you to the people of the Netherlands!)

With so many visitors, volunteers, and the guys home from school it seemed a good time to get everyone together for a day. We took a dhow to an island off the coast of Bagamoyo and had the island to ourselves for the afternoon. It rained a little but who cared?