Friday, October 3, 2008

The Worth of a Girl

What happens to the children of the Congo whose parents are killed in the wars or who die from aides? Where do the young girls go who are living in such poverty that their parents abandon them because they are unable to feed them. What happens to those girls who are left on their own to survive when there are no relatives or neighbors who are willing to help.

Young girls are at high risk everywhere here in Africa and often little value is put on their lives.

A few months ago the Parks, a missionary couple in Lubumbashi asked us to come and see an orphanage they had visited and felt was deserving of some help.

Maison d’Accueil Amani pour Filles Abandonnees is an organization managing an orphanage for girls who are abandoned or orphaned. The girls are at high risk for making it past their teen years. The people running the orphanage are beautiful, giving people who have a reverence for life and a Christ like love for children, especially those in difficult circumstances. Often the red cross will bring them girls they find who need some where to stay.

Today the orphanage supports 68 of these young girls from infants to 17 years of age. The girls come from Lubumbashi and from the war area. Many are brought to them by the Red Cross (CICR).

They have three categories of children: 1) abandoned girls, 2) orphans of both parents 3) girls from difficult situation such as divorce and poverty.
The leaders want to be able to help children find their parents, help them find a place in society and to employ them in gainful employment helping them take charge of their own lives..

We were very impressed with this orphanage as the compound was clean.

It had adequate sanitation facilities-showers and latrines.

They have a garden that the staff and children manage.

The children’s rooms were neat and orderly and there was no odor of uncleanliness in the rooms.
The children at the orphanage were clean and polite and appeared to be well cared for.

The needs for this orphanage were many including food, clothing and supplies. We looked at their request and saw a great project that would build and strengthen this organization.

They wanted to start a sewing school for the girls to teach them to sew there by giving them a profession to support themselves when they leave the orphanage.

The project supplied sewing machines, embroidery machine, and supplies to start a sewing school.

The monies generated from the sewing will go to supporting the orphanage.
There are two staff members who are trained seamstresses who will be the teachers and the girls will be given the opportunity to learn to sew and to sell what they sew at the market. The orphanage will also incorporate the church’s “Family health and Hygiene” program into their classes to prepare the girls for better health and avoidance of disease and illness
The project will become self sustaining as the orphanage is able to generate some income from the sales of the articles they will sew.

When we picked up the sewing and embroidery machines we didn't realize that we would have to assemble them along with their tables.
The girls got very excited when we pulled into the orphanage with the truck loaded down with boxes.
Assembling the machines is a technical job (where is Elder Moon when you need him - back in Kinshasa doing his real missionary work). We hired a technician to assemble the machines and went ahead with the ceremony for turning over the goods to the orphanage.

There was much clapping and singing and many thank yous. The girls were so excited to see the equipment coming into their home knowing they were going to get to learn to sew.

The orphanage asked us to keep the donation quiet as they feared that if someone found out they got all this equipment that they would be robbed. This had happened previously when someone donated some supplies to them and the whole neighborhood knew about the donation

The day after the ceremony we took the two sewing instructors to the store to purchase sewing material and notions to get their business going.

Having a love for sewing I was right in there pitching for the gold thread and the beautiful fabrics.

We had a great time SHOPPING! Some just stood to the side and rolled their eyes.

Fabric, thread buttons, snaps, hooks, needles, ribbons, lace decorative thread the pile kept getting bigger and bigger.
I told Pauline ,the shop owner, that we were on a budget of $500. She assured me that we would be well with in our budget and they continued to add things to the pile.

These two sisters were all business. You could see their brains working figuring out all the things they could make with these supplies and the opportunity to generate some needed income for the orphanage.

Pauline started adding up the bill - and adding - and adding -

Farrell watched the process getting a bit worried that we were way over our budget.

Finally Pauline announced the news - $830 grand total . . . . . . .

There were some gasps, some sighs and Farrell did a lot of choking sounds.

The instructors looked sadly at their pile of goods trying to decide what they should put back.

It was painful and wrenching as we watched them trying to figure out what was the best thing to do without.

Finally Farrell stepped up and said "Ca va." and pulled out the money to pay the price then leaned over to me and said "I think you just spent $300 of YOUR money. I was delighted - some of the best money I have ever spent.
All though we didn't put anything back, not everything on their list was purchased. They were not able to get the electric scissors they wanted very badly but that is give and take , right?

After we loaded the goods in the truck Pauline beckoned me to the second floor of her shop where she gave me a beautiful pink Congolese outfit. I think she felt rather guilty about not keeping a better handle on things but not that guilty - she took the money without flinching a bit

Can't wait to go back to Lubumbashi next week and see what those girls are learning and see if they have started generating an income yet. Can't wait!


Tiffany said...

Grandma you're having too much fun. You looked at home in that craft store. I love you! Emma

It was cool! I'm learning how to sew too. Peace! Hannah (our neighbor and Emma's friend)

Ca va seems to be spoken alot there! Dad, you're a good sport. I laughed so hard at the rolling the eyes part. I could also hear you say, "That's not my department". Mom, you were positively glowing! What fun!-Tiffany

Angela said...

Good thing you were there to help and not me right Marilyn? We all know I'm not Holly Homemaker :)