Friday, March 29, 2013


“It takes a village to raise a child” is truly the philosophy where we live.  And it is the sweetest thing to experience.  Everyone in the orphanage, at church, or in the community takes responsibility for my children.  Babies are played with, snuggled, comforted, and rocked to sleep by everyone.  Little kids are scooped up when they fall down, protected, taught, and played with.  Other children will rush over and grab any small object that my baby is about to put in her mouth.  The older kids watch me filter water for Yohani and when he’s thirsty they get him a drink the way they’ve seen me do it.  When I can’t get him to eat his rice and beans, Nolita, Cocas, or Stela will see what’s going on and find a way to get him to eat and even enjoy his food!  I can’t even express how much I deeply appreciate the help I get with my kids here.  And if Yohani tries to leave time-out the other kids will even barricade him in with chairs!

It also takes a village to build a house, put on a roof, wash a car, haul water, put out a gigantic blazing fire, clear or harvest a field, unload a truck, kill and bury a poisonous snake, put on a wedding, change a car battery, move one vehicle into another vehicle, fix anything, conduct waste management, solve a marriage dispute, catch and drag a criminal to the jailhouse, watch a soccer match, eat a bucket of roasted corn and peanuts, and make sure a sick child makes it home.

One morning last week the orphanage was quiet as all the kids were at school.  A bunch of the staff were hanging around near our porch, chatting and enjoying the calm when we suddenly saw a small crowd of very tiny children march through the orphanage front gate.  We were all curious to see where they were going and what they were doing.  Then we saw Jose in the middle of the crowd.  Other children were surrounding him, holding his arms, and all looked very serious.  They were on a mission.  Jose emerged from the crowd and made his way to Marta and Silimone’s house.  The crowd of tiny children stood watching him get to us adults, then conferred amongst themselves, and then marched back out of the orphanage front gate and disappeared down the road. 

“What’s going on?”  I asked Victor.  “Jose got sick and threw up at school so his ‘colleagues’ (the crowd of tiny 6-year-olds) brought him home.”  That’s how it is here.  There are no landlines in our area, no parent phone numbers, and no addresses.  If a child gets sick at school, the other children know what to do.  They are responsible for getting their “colleague” home.  They are very serious about this responsibility and they accomplish it well.  This is a sweet, sweet part of the culture here in Africa.  

Belson, Canito, Isaque, and Jose.
Isaque and Canito with Aya and LeeLee.  These boys are adorable with the girls and with Yohani.  The little ones all love being strolled and there is always somebody to stroll them.  I think the strollers have gone in circles around the living room over a million times by now.
I don't remember what they were doing but it took a village to do it.
Pilonte, Yohani, Merecido, Little Victor, Isaque, Manuel, Mauricio, Canito, and Jordão.
Nolita with LeeLee and Cocas with Aya.  These girls are AMAZING with my kids - AMAZING.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Tree Garden

Belson, Dionisio, Marinho, Merecido, Gil, Mauricio, Canito
Canito, Isaque, Francisco, Martinho

A while after we returned here I strolled the babies around every part of the orfanato and as we passed behind where the kids hang all their laundry we discovered a little tree garden hidden back against the far right wall.  The edge of the property is lined with young trees with leaves always rustling in the breeze.  Now beneath the trees are dozens of little clusters of tiny leaves in every brilliant shade of green you can imagine. 

Victor told me it’s the boys tree planting project.  I asked them about it and they told me that a group of them have been saving fruit seeds and plastic wrappers from the chicken that’s donated to the orfanato each month.  They replant the seeds in the left over chicken bags and then tend to them everyday until they begin growing into little trees.

Their project is truly amazing.  They use all things that we would consider trash to grow tiny little plants that will soon become huge beautiful trees that give delicious nourishing fruit, shade from the sweltering heat, shelter from rain storms, and fresh air for everyone.
Lemon, Tangerine, Ata, and Coração de Boi Trees with mango seeds drying out on a plastic bag.
Eucalyptus, Papaya, Acacia, and Ata Trees.
Papaya Trees.
Guava Fruit Tree.
Acacia Trees.
Lychee Fruit Trees.
Lemon, Orange, Ata, and Tangerine Trees.
Dionisio and Lemon Tree.
Banana Tree.
Canito and Avocado Tree.
Gil and Cassava Plants.
Belson, Isaque, and Canito with little bean plants.
Canito, Canito, Mauricio, Marinho, Dionisio, Gil, Merecido, Jordão, Francisco, and Martinho.