While I was in Tunisia, I visited an orphanage for babies. These "baby homes" are created for women who have children out of wedlock and are forced to give up their child. Some return to get them after they have served a jail term or have married the father of the child. Other women do not return and their babies are put up for adoption. Once these children are over 2 years of age, they are considered unadoptable and are then sent to an orphanage where they will stay until they are 18.
Often, these babies are left in their cribs with a bottle and are rarely held or nurtured. As a result, they have developed detachment disorders and most of their development is delayed.
However, there is hope, people!
One of our Associates works with these baby homes. She comes to play with these babies two times a week and helps in teaching the staff new ideas on how to interact with them and to encourage their early childhood development. She loves her job and the babies have all come to love her as well.
And she is not alone in her efforts. Other women, both Tunisian and foreign, are volunteering their time to train and work with the staff of these baby homes. Better feeding methods are being introduced, more time is being spent out of their cribs and additional training is being offered for staff and newly adoptive parents. The progress is slow and funding is needed but positive steps are being made. It is really quite overwhelming and inspiring.
For one very busy hour, Vicki and I spent time with seven babies, ranging in ages from 9 months to 2 years. Their big, chocolate eyes lit up when we walked into the room and they squealed knowing they were going to have time to run/crawl/wiggle and play. By the end of the hour, we were all sweaty and tired. It was the most joy-filled hour of my trip but also one of the most challenging. These sweet little ones wailed and cried when we left and I just stood there, praying over each one, wondering if they would someday have a family of their own.
When I came home, I told my mom and Noah about the baby homes. Noah had a lot of questions and I simply explained to him that these places were for babies who did not have a mom or a dad and who often did not have an opportunity to play. I could tell he thought about this for a while.
Fast forward 10 days...
On Friday, I picked Noah up from school. As we were getting buckled in, he handed me a crumpled one dollar bill. Curious as to why he would have money floating around in his backpack, I asked him what it was for.
And he said, "it is for the orphanage."
Having completely forgotten about our conversation the week before, and thinking that this may be some kind of school project, I asked "what orphanage is that, buddy?"
"You know, the orphanage for babies."
"Do you mean the one in Africa?"
"Yes, the one in Africa."
I am pretty sure my heart just exploded at that point.
"Oh Noah, you are the kindest boy. What a wonderful gift."
"Maybe they can buy a bink with it, Sarah."
"Sure buddy, maybe they can."
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put
and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.
Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth,
this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty, put in everything -
all she had to live on." ~Luke 12:41-44