Stories & UpdatesThe Power of a Mother’s Loveby Reece Anderson

How Mama Warra Nnko is changing the lives of orphaned children in a remote village of Tanzania despite all odds.

Roughly three hours from the nearest city, Karatu is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking displays of scenic terrain that you will ever see on the African continent. The northern horizon of this village is blocked by the Ngorongoro Crater, which looms in the distance a plush, green mountain. It once boasted volcanic glory, but is now a dormant home to a host of wildlife that attracts tourists from around the world.

South of Karatu lies Lake Manyara, which was said by Ernest Hemingway to be the loveliest lake in Africa. Between the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara is several hundred kilometers of rolling hills and valleys. Out of this pristine countryside arises the mud huts and grass roofed homes of Karatu’s villagers.

Karatu is a busy village, crowded with men on bicycles and motorcycles, women carrying goods on the tops of their heads, and children playing in the streets. The people of this region mostly come from the tribe called Iraqw, a tribe of Tanzania historically known for their agricultural and irrigation skills.

Although their surroundings are exquisite and their lives seem pleasant from an outsider’s perspective, Tanzanians face enormous struggles. Approximately 68% of the population of Tanzania lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. HIV is widespread, having orphaned more than 1.2 million children in Tanzania. In Karatu, a shockingly large number of people turn to alcohol to ease the pain of their circumstances, only creating more problems, broken homes, and abused or abandoned children.

Superstition and deeply rooted traditional beliefs add to the Tanzanian struggle, especially in small towns like Karatu. Witchcraft, taboos and folklore have a strong effect on the majority of the villagers in Karatu. If a ritual requires it, they will go so far as to abandon or harm a child. Perhaps, the worst alleged curse is one that affects the family of a mother who has had a child outside of marriage rituals. It is said that the mother of the child will bring a curse to the entire family. This leaves many mothers with a devastating choice when her baby arrives: keep the baby and face family and societal exclusion or abandon the child to avoid “curse.”

In 2003, a pastor and his wife from Arusha were visiting a church in Karatu. They spent the night in a local hostel where they had planned to rest and then make the three hour drive back the next morning. The night was cold and rainy. During the night, Warra heard a faint sound at the door of their guest house. She walked to the door and opened it. There lay a helpless baby boy. The child was only a couple of months old. Warra scooped the child into her arms and brought him in to her husband. The child was deathly ill, most likely due to being left in the cold rain, so they rushed him to the nearest hospital. Warra never left the child’s side that night. The next morning her husband insisted that they had to leave for Arusha. But, Warra gave the doctors money and told them that when the child was better to let her know and she would come back for the child. Warra remembers how grieved her heart was on the way back to Arusha. For days, she wept over this child and that someone would reject such an innocent and beautiful baby boy.

Several days later, Warra received the heartbreaking news that the child had died. But, that night would live in Warra’s memory for the rest of her life. That night added fuel to the fire in Warra’s heart to rescue orphans. Because of what they had seen in Karatu, Warra and her husband decided to move from the city Arusha to the tiny village of Karatu and begin what is now known as Shalom Orphanage.

Shalom began in a tiny little room not far from where the orphanage exists today. Warra and her husband faced extremely challenging circumstances when they started this work. They had little room, little help, and no money. At times even her husband found it difficult to understand Warra’s relentless passion, and cautioned her that this mission carried tremendous responsibility and garnered little return. Yet, for 10 years God was faithful to Warra and Shalom Orphanage.

Today, Warra is known to most as Mama Warra. 65 orphans call Shalom Orphanage their home. The vision Mama Warra had to care for the most vulnerable in their society has spread like wildfire in Karatu and impacted the community, the region, and even a few government officials in Tanzania.

But, Mama Warra’s greatest impact is not legislation or cultural influence or community support. It is in the smallest moments of joy, love, and laughter with the children she cares for. Many of them have suffered unbearable circumstances in their short lives. Stories of rape, physical abuse, abandonment, and loss are not uncommon amongst these children. It is because of this that Mama Warra makes an unrelenting effort to remind these children that they are loved.

“They are not orphans. They have a family, they have a home, and they are loved. That will always be here for them,” Mama Warra says. “They will always be able to call Shalom their home. They will always have a mama waiting to see them. We will always have room for them in this home.”

In the evenings, local villagers and passersby along the road can hear the sounds of worship ringing out from Shalom’s evening chapel. Mama Warra leads 65 children in songs about Jesus and His love and a testament to God’s ability to restore and redeem all things fills the Tanzanian sky. It is as immeasurable, as awe-inspiring as the African night sky itself.

Story and Photography by Josh and Mia Baker

A Future and A Hope: Greta’s Wedding

by Reece Anderson
The State of Rajasthan in the northern part of India is known by many as the “State of Kings.” When most westerners picture the colorful streets, people, and customs of India, Rajasthan is usually what they envision. It is a state of extremes. Behind the colorful culture, bustling cities, and serene rural villages, there are many people without hope.
In a country where approximately 80,000 children go missing each year and millions reside on the streets to fend for themselves, only a small percentage of these orphans will ever have a chance to live in a loving home and realize their full potential.
Greta was orphaned at the age of one along with her two siblings. At that time, there were no living relatives or foster families who were able to take in Greta and her sisters. For many in India, Karma demands that the orphans, the poor, the disabled, and others dealing with a crisis must shoulder their burden alone. (Based on supposed sins committed in a past life)
Luckily, there was a Christian orphanage willing to take Greta and her siblings in. It was there that she grew up in a home with food, clothing, the opportunity to get an education, and adult mentors who could share the Love of Christ.
Today, Greta is a beautiful young woman who serves as a house mom at El Shaddai Rescue home. She has dedicated her life to giving other orphaned children in India the same opportunities she had. On April 14th, 2017, she married the love of her life Kuldeep in front of 150 gusts with a huge wedding celebration! Kuldeep also has a unique background…He was brought up in a very rural part of Northern India in an un-reached people group where the Gospel has not fully reached. After coming to Christ through some miraculous connections, he now works as a driver for the tour bus company that acts as a source of income for the ministry.
The ultimate goal for all of the Serving Orphans Worldwide projects is sustainability. We wanted to share this story with you, and let you know that it is because of you, that Greta’s story is even possible. When we reach out and influence the condition of one orphan, it has a ripple effect that changes many lives for generations to come!
This newly wedded couple have decided to continue working together with El Shaddai Rescue home for years to come. Let’s hope the best for them and their future!

 

Family is Forever

by Reece Anderson

There is no doubt that orphaned children are among the most vulnerable populations on earth. With nearly 160,000,000 children who do not have a family to call their own, it is difficult for anyone to ignore this crisis. 

If all of these children were to come together, they would make up the 10th largest nation in the world. While the scope of this crisis is overwhelming, there is only one organization in existence today with the current global network, number of people, resources, and mission to do something about this tragedy. That organization is the Church.

As Christians, we have a biblical mandate to care for widows and orphans and serve “the least of these.” There are few things that should grieve our hearts more than knowing that there are literally 160 Million children without a forever home, a family, and in many cases, basic needs, clothing, an education, and adult mentors who can share the Love of Christ.

The best case scenario for each one of these children is adoption into a family. I have heard it said that if each church had just one family that could adopt an orphan, we could end the orphan crisis in our lifetime. I also know that there are many more Christians than there are orphans, and for the first time in history, we live in a generation with global communication and networking capabilities to reach out to others hurting on every continent.

Even though the statistics look grim for the vast majority of these children, we will never give up! Serving Orphans Worldwide exists to Rescue, Train, and Sustain struggling homes and connect these children with Christian families when possible. For the 99% of orphans who will not be adopted this year, we want to do everything we can to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs by the time they reach adult-hood.

If you or someone you know is considering adoption, we would love to hear from you and connect you with some resources to help you along your journey. There is nothing more rewarding than putting the power of possibility into the hands of a child so that they can reach the potential that God has for them.

No Longer Forgotten

by Reece Anderson

Ten-year-old Han Li was living on the streets with complete strangers in northeastern China this time last year. Her mother and father fled North Korea into China with Han in 2015 and later, her parents were captured by the Chinese immigration police known as “Gong-An” and taken back to North Korea. The sad reality is that Han is just one of thousands of orphaned North Korean children now living under the radar in China and nearly all of their deported parents will never be seen or heard from again.

Between 100,000 and 400,000 North Koreans are estimated to be living illegally in northeastern China today with no refugee status or access to any public services and resources. This means no school enrollment for the children or any of the basic rights afforded to many other migrants and refugees throughout the world. As a result, 25,000 children are now de facto oprhans…An estimated 70% of North Koreans living illegally in China are women and a large number were sold to Chinese men by human traffickers.

Getting back to Han, she was literally rescued off the streets by a Chinese good Samaritan working for an agency running a news story on North Korean street children in China. She was brought to Do-Chon orphanage in Yanji-City where she has recently been adopted into a forever home by a local school teacher who volunteers for the home. Han is one of the truly lucky children forgotten and left behind by the North Korean migrant crisis. She is settling in well to her new home and has a bright future ahead of her!

What Legacy Will You Leave? The Surujpaul’s Story

by Reece Anderson

Bless The Children Home in Guyana helps to meet the needs of more than 100 children each year and provides full time care to dozens of orphans. The Surujpauls who helped establish the home have been the directors here for 9 years and will leave a legacy for many generations to come both in their own family and through the families served by their years of service.

Mr. and Mrs. Surujpaul got married at the age of 19, and they were both born in Guyana in the same village. When they got married, Mr. Surujpaul was a school teacher. (A highly coveted and well paying job of that time). However, soon after marriage he felt a call of God on his life to go into full time ministry. He obeyed! Together, he and his wife Sheila started preaching the gospel in the mostly Hindu and Muslim neighborhoods that surrounded their village.

During their life together, they raised 4 children and today are blessed with 4 grandchildren. They stayed in full time ministry for all of the 49 years they have been married. After over a decade of serving in their home country of Guyana, they were led to America to continue raising their family where they became citizens.

After more than 20 years of being in the US, Mrs. Sheila received a dream from God to use a piece of land she purchased from a family member in Guyana to open an orphanage. She was sure that God wanted her to use that specific spot to help hurting children in Guyana find hope and fulfill their purpose in God. She enlisted her family’s help and started the journey to build Bless the Children Home. Her dream for this started in 2005.

With the help of friends, family and complete strangers, the home was built in Guyana completely debt free. In September 2008 they opened the doors to the first set of children. This year will mark 9 years of the home’s service to children of Guyana. During these years we’ve seen many, many, children grow up and are happy they had a second chance in life.

In late 2015 Ms. Sheila was diagnosed with stage 3-4 peritoneal cancer. She was scheduled for surgery to remove what they thought was “some” cancer on her ovaries. When the surgeon went in to do surgery, there was cancer on every organ in her abdomen area. She was sent for chemo and further treatment, but in spite of the bad news, Ms. Sheila knew that her time was not over on this earth and that there was much more work to be done. So, she prayed and believed God for a complete healing and restoration. Miraculously, the cancer is gone and she no longer has to go through treatments or surgeries! We continue to thank God for her complete healing and restoration. Since that time, she has gone back to Guyana to live and serve the children. Together her and her husband help provide a stable mom and dad figure for the children. They call Rev. Surujpaul “uncle pastor” and fondly refers to her as mom or Ms. Sheila.

The children and staff of the home are truly grateful for her generosity and for her perseverance to fulfill God’s instruction to her to build a home for children. She did all of this with the full help and support of her husband who she had been supporting in ministry for years and years.

In Guyana she is known as “mom to many.”

Bless The Children Home is grateful to have such a godly heritage, and Serving Orphans Worldwide considers it a privilege to partner with them to impact the lives of more orphaned children in Guyana. Your financial support is a very big part of our operations and helping to care for these beautiful children. We thank you for your continued support.

 

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