Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sierra Leone: Unpacking Supplies

Saturday was a very busy day.  We headed out in the morning to see a couple of prospective new properties for The Covering.  With 80 children, the building they are using now is overflowing and more space is needed - after just 9 months being in operation.

We saw a wonderful piece of property that is so much nicer than what they have now.  The compound has a 3 level home with a kitchen on each floor.  There are bathrooms in each bedroom and it is set up almost perfectly for what is needed.  There is another building where TRS could house workers, parents of children, travelers, etc.  It had a large garage/storage building, flat play space that could be a great playground, pavement for a basketball court and even space that could be used for a garden.  And...maybe my favorite part is that it is just down the road from a university.  Across the road is the field the university uses from track and soccer playing.  Just think of all the possibilities!

Of course, the fee for this property is much more than what they are currently paying.  We are praying that God's will be done in this situation and that some how, they would be able to find funding or another property that would meet their needs.

When we finally got to the center, we began unpacking the 30+ bags of supplies we brought.  Everything from bandaids to books, shoes and clothing, and gifts for each of the kids from their sponsors.  A group of supporters in Tennessee saw to it that each child got a new stuffed animal with a bracelet that had their name on it.  They were so excited!  It was so cute to watch them stuff the animals down the back of their shirts....just the way African mommas carry their babies!

Kids and animals!

Each child also got a special gift from their sponsor.  Individually, we pulled each child to the side and they got a chance to open their present.  Most received a gift plus a small photo album of their American family. They really do feel like these people are their family.  All the workers at the center call the sponsors "mommies and daddies".  One of the caregivers asked if I was Mamie and Muhammed's Momma.  I said, "Uh...not really.  I'm their sponsor."  "Oh yeah.  You are the Mommy, then!" she said.  What could I say to that?  "Ok!  I'm the Mommy!"

It was such a joy to see the kids with their gifts.  For some of them, it was the first toy they'd ever had.  Before I left Springfield, I shopped long and hard to find a black baby doll for Mamie.  I just felt like every girl needed a babydoll and I sure couldn't take a little African girl a white baby.  It was a harder task than I expected, but it paid off!  She lit up like a Christmas tree when I gave her that baby!  After she held it for a while, she took me by the hand and said, "Show my Aunty!"  She led me to her room, where she proudly showed her new baby to her caregivers, before she put her baby to sleep on her pillow.  Later in the day, we went back to check on the baby to make sure she was safe and sound.  So sweet!

Before I had the chance to give Muhammed his gifts, he came to me saying, "Auto cars, Aunty.  Auto cars."  He had seen the Hot Wheels that the other boys were getting and wanted his own.  Well,  I had brought him a bright blue car that was quite a bit larger than the Hot Wheels, plus a few Hot Wheels, too.  I don't think anything would have made him happier.  His eyes lit up and danced!  Baby and cars - $35.00.  Smiling orphans in Africa - PRICELESS!!

Mamie and her baby (she like the cars, too!)

Muhammed and his cars

We were also able to give the baby caregivers the gift of new diapers!  Wow, did we make their day!  No more diaper pins for them.  Nice, soft cloth diapers with adjustable covers!  They were just thrilled when Tiffany and I showed them how to use them.  Wish I'd gotten a picture of their faces.

There was a lot of singing, dancing and just having fun with the kids that day.  They are all so beautiful. I can't imagine their lives before they came to The Covering.  And even still, The Covering is still an orphanage.....heaven compared to where they came from.....but no place that I'd want my own sons to be.  They are safe, fed and clothed there.  And - don't get me wrong - they are so thankful for all they have.  But it's heartbreaking to know them personally, love them, hold them in your arms and know that they still don't have a mom to tuck them in at night or kiss their owies when they fall down.  No one to give them that individual attention that every child needs.

It's been so much harder to come home than I ever imagined.  I haven't blogged for a few days, because I've just been too depressed to do much of anything.  I find myself sometimes just in a daze thinking about Mamie and Muhammed or Safienatu and wondering about what they must be doing.  It's been almost paralyzing at times.  I missed my own boys so much while I was there, and now I miss Africa.

I prayed for God to break my heart for what broke His, and He did.  I should've thought more about that before I prayed it.  Being broken hearted hurts.

Some of the kids playing with a preschool toy.  They were amazed!

I loved watching them play their drums!

I just LOVE this girl!

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