If you have seen our brochure for Neema House you know that we quote David Platt from his book Radical when he wrote, “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
Jack and Sylvia Pape have just returned from a
month at Neema House. (See photos of them below) After over 50
years of pastoring churches, they are retired and deserve to settle back and
enjoy life. Right? But what do they
do? They head to Africa to hold
abandoned and orphaned babies. It may
sound exotic, tropical, exciting, after all its Africa, but mostly it is just loud,
messy and tiring.
The electricity goes off, the city turns the water off without notice, the internet is down about as much as it is up, you can’t talk with your children on the phone, your muscles are sore and, oh no, not rice and beans again! Why would a retired couple do this? I think it is because they have taken a radical look at God’s word and think he meant what he said when he told us “Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widows” and “If you don’t take care of the poor, the homeless, and the hungry it will be like I never knew you.”
Some people might consider going to Africa pretty radical but to us it’s just Jack and Sylvia Pape. We love people who do radical things for God! Thank you Jack and Sylvia for loving these little cast off, throw away babies, the poorest of the poor, the least of these of whom Jesus says, “If you will take care of them it will be just like you are taking care of me.” You want to do something for God? Take care of His little ones.
Platt in his book Radical goes on
to say, “So when you and I hear the staggering numbers and statistics about the
poor and needy around the world, we have a choice. We can switch channels and let these numbers
remain cold, distant and almost imaginary or we can open our eyes and our lives
to the realities that surround us and begin considering the faces that are
represented by these numbers.”
Here are some of the very real faces of Neema babies.
Baraka Mother Died
Ibrahim Mother Died
Julius Mother Died
Deborah Abandoned in a House
Maxine Abandoned at the Hospital
Sarah Abandoned at the Hospital
Daniel Abandoned in a Front Yard
Sorry the pictures are so big, but I wanted you to see their faces up close and see how very real they are. I wanted you to see that they are looking to someone for their next bottle. If you are not already sponsoring a child at Neema please consider doing that. They need you. You can sponsor for as little as $20 per month. But it costs $300 a month to keep a baby at Neema House. It is easy to set it up on an automatic deposit on the web site www.tanzaniaorphanhelp.com
Thank you and Bless you for caring.
Grace to You,
Michael and Dorris Fortson
We told you about baby Maxine, the newest abandoned
baby at Neema, in the last blog. She is the baby who was picked up from the government
hospital last Thursday and named for a dear friend.
(Baby Maxine and her namesake, Maxine Huddleston, are pictured above)
Early Tuesday morning, Bekah, our daughter who is currently directing Neema House in our absence, sent an urgent text that Maxine was in trouble. The nannies had knocked on her door to tell her that the new baby was not doing well. Bekah went down to check on her and found the baby barely breathing. She got her stethoscope out and listened to her tiny little chest and heard popping sounds which meant some kind of lung infection. The baby was also extremely cold to touch. She weighs only 3.5 pounds and has no fat on her little body so can lose body heat very quickly.
The nannies had been keeping the baby in isolation, on a hot water bottle and we had hired a nanny to stay with her 24/7. They were using the electric heater at Neema but you can only leave it on for about 30 minutes or it will burn up the plug – ask me I know. With different voltage in Africa, heaters and hair dryers burn up easily and usually burn the wall plug with them. Michael has had to replace more than one.
(Jenny, right, one of the nannies staying with Baby Maxine)
Bekah sent the American Pediatrician, Dr. Matthews, a text but then decided they better not wait for a reply because the baby was not responding. Jack Pape, who with his wife Sylvia, are volunteering at Neema for a month, had to drive them to the hospital. (Jack is pictured left) Driving in Africa is a scary thing. Downtown Arusha traffic is extremely congested with push carts, bicycles, dala dalas, four lanes of cars on two lane roads all trying to get ahead while missing the motorcycle taxis and the women carrying loads on their heads in and out of traffic and no street signs and stop signs! I have not yet attempted to drive it, but thankfully Jack agreed to drive. So while Bekah was trying to keep little Maxine breathing she was telling Jack how to get to the hospital. Jack said it was pretty scary.
When they got there, the staff rushed the baby up to
NICU while Bekah stayed to get her checked in.
Then she went up to ICU and found a blue baby and the staff trying to
(Baby Maxine above in ICU with feeding tube)
I was not sure what that meant but found out later they were trying to get an oxygen bag on her. Bekah jumped in, checked her pulse, could not find one and started doing CPR on the baby while the ER staff stood back and let her take over. She asked them to bring her a scope to try to find a heartbeat while continuing the CPR. She said, “It took over five minutes of CPR to bring her back but I did it; I told them I was not going to let this baby die if I could help it. I finally got a weak pulse but she was still not breathing on her on so I continued to breathe for the baby.” It took over 15 minutes before she finally took a breath on her own.” Bekah (see below left, with another Neema Baby) had the nurses start an IV and was amazed to see they could actually find a vein in that little bitty hand. Her oxygen levels were dropping below 40%, they should be above 95%. After an hour the pediatrician made it to the hospital and was able to take over. He worked for a couple of hours to stabilize the baby and said if she makes it through the night she has a chance.
Dr. Matthews said that with the respiratory infection and being too cold her little body had just shut down. Bekah said, “Mom, it sure would have been nice to have had the incubator that is setting at Global Samaritan waiting to be shipped.” The doctor also said there was no way this baby weighed 3.5 pounds when the government hospital released her, more like 2.5 and should have never been released. Bekah told him, “She may be tiny but she is strong as an elephant!”
Baby Maxine made it through the night and Bekah reports she is hungry and crying this morning. Praise God! Please don’t stop praying though, she has many more days in ICU. Neema does not have medical insurance for the babies, I'm not even sure there is such a thing in Africa, so if you can help with the hospital bill we would be so grateful.
We are so glad Bekah was there and so proud of Jack for driving downtown Arusha!!
Grace to All!
Michael and Dorris Fortson
On Thursday October 10, Neema received a call from the government hospital in Arusha, Tanzania. A very tiny 3.5 pound baby girl had been abandoned and they wanted to know if we could come pick her up.
Our daughter, Rebekah, an EMT, said yes, of course we would take her. Bekah named the baby Maxine Huddleston, after the wife of the missionary doctor who delivered Bekah in Africa many years ago. We are so honored that one of our very dearest friends, and a great friend of Neema House, now has one of the precious Neema babies named for her! If you know me, you know I cried!
Baby Maxine is so little they have her in isolation in our bedroom at Neema with a full time twenty-four hour nanny watching over and caring for her. She is being fed with a dropper and is sleeping on a hot water bottle to keep her warm. Babies this small lose their body heat very quickly.
We could surely use our incubator and warming table
right now! We were given an incubator, a
warming table, a bilirubin table and a suction machine by a hospital near
Billings, Montana, where, Kim and Bruce and our grandchildren live. (See Incubator, Kim, Dorris, and a nurse from the hospital, below)
still need $12,000 dollars for the shipment to get it to us in Africa!! We are planning to ship a forty foot
container through Global Samaritan Resources in Abilene, Texas, and would love
for a kind person to donate that amount so we can get the incubator on it’s
way! Refilling that hot water bottle is
not the best way to keep this tiny little baby warm. If you can help with that bill, please let us
know and we will contact Danny Sims, the CEO at Global Samaritan.
(Global Samaritan workers loading a shipment above) You can see the Global Samaritan web site at www.globalsamaritan.org. They do an incredible job of sending
shipments to missions around the world.