Children deserve families, and as we appreciate our own throughout the holiday season, we should also pause to think of kids and families like those we work with in Tanzania. Despite dire economic circumstances, these are families who are often desperate to stay together. With the help of donors like you, we've been able to keep over 150 children in their homes, where they belong, and return more than 20 home from our loving residential family-style homes. At Happy Family Children's Village and Nkoaranga Orphanage, we've provided full time care for almost 50 children this year alone. Help us keep the momentum going!
PrayGod is one of the amazing children who has lived with us since just after his mother's death in childbirth. He's got an eager smile, was operating the orphanage VCR by age 3, and fixed the clothes dryer with Japhet in October. This year, we were able to get his father and stepmother treatment for their severe and previously undiagnosed tuberculosis, and provided food support while they recovered. This isn't the type of story we usually share, because it doesn't end with everyone happy at home - but the truth is, our approach involves meeting families wherever they are, and working with them holistically - many of them still have a long way to go before reunification is possible, if it ever is. But PrayGod is part of the Nkoaranga family, and his father and stepmother are as well - we will always do everything we can for them. After all, they're our family, and what could be more important?
My own life has changed dramatically in the last year, making that statement clearer than ever - on November 27th of 2017, my father, David Ross Russell, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer at just 57 years old, and would die within two months. He was my rock and my hero, and it has been very difficult to continue without him. However, I learned so much during that period. I learned just how strong and committed our team is - they stepped up and handled every last detail to ensure the kids had a wonderful holiday and transition back to school. I've learned to treasure each day that I have with my own family, not taking a single second for granted. And I've learned that losing a parent leaves an unbearable void, making me even more empathetic for our beloved children, who have lost so much more than me. So here's to another year of making the world a better place, one small action at a time - together!