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Ever needed to shoot in the dark?

We have to change our flights again on Monday, but to when? With no date for the girls' citizenship interview, nor any idea of when to expect it, planning a return date feels a bit like a shot in the dark!

We will be stepping out of our comfort zone into new territory as we go back to Uganda. With Blessed and Andrew doing a great job managing the work in Entebbe, we have been asked to spend several months watching over Mto Moyoni, a retreat centre in Jinja. It's Swahili name means 'River of the Heart'. It is a beautiful place on the banks of the River Nile near its source. Our being there will make it possible for friends, Ingrid Wilts and Winette Hubregtse, to take an extended break from the work they have built up over the past 10 years. It will be a privilege to stand with the 19 staff in 'guarding' this amazing work. We have sensed for some time a joining of hearts with Ingrid and Winette so this is great!
 
Zemba staff recently heard of a mother who had decided to starve her last born to death because she already has more children than she can handle. Up to now, we would have focused on rescuing her vulnerable child. But, what of the mother? What future does she have? What of her other children, watching their sibling die at her hands? What life springs from damaged hearts? Yes, we give a place to the vulnerable child, but we want to see a safe place created for them in their own homes. To see hearts, not hurts nurtured.

We have just celebrated Thanksgiving on this side of the Atlantic. We are very thankful for y'all (as they say on Texas)  on the other side too!

Love,
David & Robin Stearns, Zemba Children's Foundation
"We don't have books, pencils,
     shoes or uniforms, but now we have rabbits!"

Andrew started to realise that the list of extras may never end! The kids he sponsored with school fees came back. "We don't have books, pencils, shoes or school uniforms. We can't attend school without them."

"Where do we draw the line? When do we stop helping?"

Instead of immediately giving the kids more money, Andrew wanted to find a sustainable solution with them. After some thought, he bought the kids a doe rabbit! He rented a buck and enlisted his help in making the investment productive. Showing all the children of the house how to take care of the rabbit and what to collect for feed, Andrew built a small hutch with materials that were at hand. He explained that in a month, each of them could have their own rabbits to take care of, as a doe can produce up to 12 kittens. Each rabbit reared and sold could bring in about $4. The kids would raise their own money for pencils and books. If they sold 3 rabbits they could buy school shoes. "The secondhand ones from the market last longer than the cheap Chinese imports," Andrew advised them. He checks on the kids regularly and sees how the rabbits are doing.

Andrew has won the kids' attention with the wisdom and care he has shown them. The boys come to him often for guidance. He tells them the importance of honouring their parents and talks about the values that will help them get the most out of their education. How simple principles and small beginnings bear fruit. This is the Zemba approach - we love it!
 
Let me know more about sponsoring a FAMILY STRONG
Mum leaves newborn to starve
Elizabeth Rescued by Neighbour
Back in September, Grace Halland, a friend who volunteers with Zemba posted to FaceBook, "So inspired and humbled to meet this woman Saturday, who rescued this two month old baby from the mother who 'had enough children already' and was letting this baby girl die. So thankful for organizations like Zemba Children's Foundation, who are willing to work alongside people like this, in caring for needy babies within the community. This woman is an inspiration using the little she has to help others. It literally saved this baby girl's life."
"Not only was the baby starving, she had a terrible skin infection. She had lost weight since she was born, her little arms saggy, like an old person."
 
Grace couldn't help but compare Elizabeth's new environment to an orphanage. The house was small, clean and quiet and she will have one on one care, as well as experience normal community life. Quite opposite to a noisy, often times dirty institution, where the worker to baby ratio is low and changes often. Babies there rarely leave the confines of the compound.

Please pray with us for Elizabeth. We were excited to partner in this informal foster care situation by providing medical and nutritional support. However, a few weeks after we met them, Blessed received a phone call from this kind lady to say that the police had arrived with the leader of another organisation and had taken Elizabeth away. We don't yet know the full story, but Blessed is trying to find some answers.
Zemba refocused
Strengthening Families for the Vulnerable
 
Zemba was initially established in 2005 to support Robin in her mission to run the babies home at New Hope Uganda. In 2009, AcaciaTree Uganda, a malnutrition center in Entebbe began. Developments in childcare and welfare issues in Uganda, and marriage to David in 2012, led to a transition in the work towards family strengthening. Children who would have previously been cared for in-center, are now being rehabilitated by their families, in their family home, with our support and encouragement. About 20 families are on the program at any one time. As they get on their own feet, they help other vulnerable families. Our base is a 2-acre rented property where, through pigs and poultry, we endeavour to bring sustainability to AcaciaTree, meanwhile the base expenses are about $1,700 per month.

              Community not institution
                     Prevention not emergency
                            Sustainability not dependency

 
The staff run workshops on nutrition and family values in the community around the farm, ministering to the unique and specific needs they come across. The work’s influence expands as those helped become advocates of healthy values to their neighbors. We meet tragic stories where children are at danger in their birth homes. We are convinced that to only deal with the outward needs of children and families in Uganda, without giving attention to the deeper heart issues, is like sticking a band-aid on a fruit to stop it from rotting. Can we just walk away from the tragic situation of a mother or father who wants their child to die or just ‘rescue’ the child? We want to see a safe place created for the vulnerable child in their own home whenever possible.
It's a journey of the heart for us too.
 
We are excited to get more involved with Mto Moyoni, Swahili for 'River in the Heart'
Every child that comes into ZEMBA care has a unique background that influences how we offer support. We hear many single mothers in Uganda say, “I have no food for my children, no house, no blanket and I am dying.’’ Malnutrition is a common result of poverty in our community - poverty you can see and can touch and that is not just material! We integrate nutritional treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition into basic health services so that we can reach more children. We aim to strengthen families to care for them practically and introduce to them the love of the Father who inspires, guides and provides for all we do.
 
We are so thankful for partnerships - partnership with our supporters around the world and partnership with our passionate Ugandan colleagues. We count both as great friends.
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