A father and his son were walking along a deserted beach after a particularly high tide had washed up thousands of starfish on to the sand. The boy started picking them up and throwing them back into the water one by one. The father quizzed his son saying, “ You can’t possibly save them all, there are millions, you can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, “Made a difference to that one.”
Nanani (13 years old ) suffered from epilepsy since infancy. He regularly missed school. After treatment at Glad Tidings Orphan Care, Salima he is symptom free and doing better at school.
Abdula, disabled from birth now has a new wheelchair. A surgeon will operate to give him a usable hand after a medical check and decide if surgery to his legs is also possible.
These are two of the amazing children that I work with at Glad Tidings Orphan Care (a Starfish project). We have the joy of making a difference in the lives of 240 orphans who are cared for by grandmothers or extended family. Children are visited weekly by one of our 5 key workers. Mentoring these workers happens as I travel with them to visit families. They learn about disease prevention, health and nutrition so as to pass the information on to families. They learn what to do for children like Nanani and Abdula. Key workers are also encouraged to pray and share the Word with families, many of whom are Muslim. Most are open to being prayed with.
Peter, our bicycle ambulance driver takes sick children 19km to the local hospital both day and night; the rainy season is the busiest with Malaria cases. These have decreased due to our distribution of nets.
At the preschool, orphans study and receive a daily meal. On Saturdays all are invited to a programme of teaching and activities where they learn about Jesus. Our key workers make the children’s uniforms.
Working in communities has its challenges, finding out what perceived needs are so that people take ownership of projects, giving them encouragement and the opportunity to try new things. One of my early challenges was a family that increased from 2 children to 5 children overnight. At 6 weeks the babies were dying because the mum had no food and no milk for them. They were only about 1.5kg. With our help the children are now healthy 4 year olds; their mum grows maize and other foods for the family.
We grow maize, soya and groundnuts, using principles from the Farming God’s Way programme. This not only provides food for our program but also teaches families to grow better crops with less inputs, giving them adequate food for the family and extra income. The soil quality is also improved by using methods that God shows in nature. Although the rains came late this last season we had about double the maize of other farmers: they now want to know how to do it! Caregivers are also taught vegetable gardening, cooking and making wood burning stoves, which are safer and use less wood.
Our aim is to show the love of Christ by teaching and equipping extended families to care for orphans and themselves more effectively. This also reduces health problems. We aim to fulfil God’s command to care for orphans, widows and the needy: to make a difference in the lives of such as these.
By Jean Whittaker