It is hard to believe that we have been up and running now for almost 2 months! The first couple weeks were a bit hectic with little ones away from their moms or grandmas for the first time. But after a week or two, they were fine! Still some tears at drop off, but enjoying their time with their new friends and caregivers. We have some wonderful staff. They are so patient, never seem to be tired or annoyed when it is a long day, kids are fussy or we don’t have running water. Some of the children even cry when their parents pick them up because they are having so much fun!
The majority of the parents are able to work now that they have the freedom to search for a job. We are looking forward to a small team of women coming from the states that have offered to train our women in handicrafts on Monday! Love how God weaves people together. The family that moved into the unit that we were in temporarily when we first moved here, we have gotten to know a bit. They are a really nice missionary family and they offered to help Strong Families any way they could! Not as if they do not have their own mission, but they want to help us with our program. I got a text message offering this training to our mothers and grandmothers. So we have a 3 day training scheduled for 28 of our beneficiaries! We are all excited about the things we can learn. The women will have additional skills and avenues to create more income for their families. We will post more after this training.
Since the beginning of the program, we have had 4 families that had to be asked to leave. One of the the families did not show up on a regular basis and did not have a valid excuse for why they were not coming each day (this was in the first 2 weeks of program). Another family we discovered that she had more income than what was first reported in the interview process. She needed assistance, and will have her child enrolled in Strong Academy in a matter of months, but the services that we offer are abundant and are meant for the poorest of the poor. Another 2 families had infants, and staff believed that they were using their children for begging purposes. They also could not come up with valid proof as to why they were absent from the program for a length of time, so they were asked to leave. You will soon be able to view the criteria for being in the program. One of the rules is that they cannot beg as a job. This is difficult since this is what a large number of the families did as a source of income. But we feel strongly that their dignity needs to be restored and this is one way this will happen. There are many things here that we (as Americans) may view as laid back compared to what we are accustom to, but it is very encouraging to know that we (SF staff) are committed in running a program that demands women to be on time for drop off, pick up, as well as following the rules that have been carefully designed to help the families we are serving. We have had women come to our gate asking to be in our program, as well as families on the waiting list, so it has not taken us long to fill the slots that were empty. It is hard to not just invite all of them in, but we know there are many times, several stories that need to be validated before finding out what the true needs of each family are here.
We are so thankful for how smoothly things are running at the center. The children are happy, we are fully staffed, and have some wonderful long term volunteers that help each day. The biggest challenge has been running water. Again, I do not know how they do it, but the center is clean, as well as the babies with very little water. On the days (which in the last 2-3 weeks has been nearly every day) that there is no running water, they come with a horse drawn cart with containers and fill them up at our house (when we have running water) and use that water for the washing clothes, diapers, tushies, floors, dishes, bottles, cook—everything. Again, amazing staff that strive for the best regardless of circumstances. We are thankful for donations for a much needed water tank that will be installed on Monday! So now when the city water is turned on, it will store in this new tank to use for the center. And if the city water is not working, we will have the option of paying for water to be delivered to fill the tanks. Not the ideal situation, but better than containers being filled!
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. Now it is time to start sharing with all your friends and families about our sponsorships! Please look at the families, and pray for them. Even though some of the pictures may appear that they are not happy—I so wish you could see these kids “for real”. They are the happiest, funniest kids ever! It is so much fun getting to know them. Although there is still a one year old that does not care for me at all and pretty much starts crying if I look at her! When visitors come (any white person, that is) the kids still are leary of them…some of them crying, most just being very silent! This is so funny to me of course, since I know some of them are crazy 2 year olds that are full of energy!
Blessings to you all as you help us spread the word!