Today we visited Compassion International's child development centers. The 34 of us spit in half and each visited a different project. I went to TZ600. It is one of the oldest centers in Tanzania. My past experiences led me to believe that all the students would be at the project for our visit. However, since it is the middle of the week, the students were in school. On this visit some of the teenage sponsored students in this project were given permission to miss school to welcome us. It was so wonderful having undistracted time with these teenagers. (It is hard not to automatically run to the cute little ones during project visits.) The teens welcomed us, and escorted us into the church where we were honored to hear them sing, dance and then four of them shared powerful testimonies. Additionally, the staff was very kind to us and shared a lot of useful information about the work that they do with the 287 children that attend the center.
One highlight for me today was visiting the home of Doreen. Doreen is 17 years old. She has been attending the center for about 10 years, and is a very good student. The pastor described her as a leader, and she hopes to be a doctor. "Doreen" is her new name. When she accepted Christ as her savior she changed from her Muslim name to a name that she chose (which means beautiful flower) to symbolize that she is a new person in Christ. Her home is made of mud and wood, and it has three rooms. There is no electricity or running water in her home. It was very small and dark inside. (I got my first mosquito bite in her home, and I'm hoping it wasn't a malaria mosquito!)
Doreen lives with her mother and younger brother. Her mother is unemployed. Although Doreen is healthy, we learned that her mother is HIV positive. Doreen's mother shared with us that she is fearful about what will happen to her children if she dies from AIDS. She is worried about her "numbers" (cell count). Thankfully, because Doreen was sponsored by a nine-year-old girl in Arizona, 10 years ago, her mother is receiving medicine to prolong her life. Their family is also given food with nutrients and her mother receives regular health check-ups to monitor how she is doing. The health worker said that her mother could live a very long time if it is God's will and she continues to take her medicine.
I don't know if Doreen will become a doctor, but the Compassion project has taught her to dream big. She also has the assurance that although her mother has HIV/AIDS she will be cared for through the AIDS Intervention Program and will most likely live to see Doreen graduate. This beautiful young woman has hope in a situation that otherwise could be very bleak. Praise God for how he has used Compassion's ministry to help this family!
1. Doreen's home
2. Doreen, her mother, and the grandkids
3. Letters from Doreen's sponsor