My husband Avery and I recently returned from a wonderful visit with the staff and kids at MCO. We did not go with a lofty agenda, just to do life with them for 9 days...chores, meals, homework, church, and play.
It had been 4 years since my last visit, and it was so good to become reacquainted with the 10 original children and also to meet the 6 new younger children who joined the home in September 2010. I've had a partnership with MCO for about 8 years and have been back 4 times to visit, and this time my husband Avery was able to come with me!
|Rachel and Avery (left) with the MCO family|
We were impressed with what we saw- the new beautiful dorm, the garden, and the well cared for pigs. A year ago they were given 6 pigs for Christmas, and now we can count over 30! They are beginning to sell some of them and also the manure for fertilizer. For several meals we ate items from the garden, and for one special dinner we enjoyed the first pig from their farm they'd ever eaten. His name was "Mr. Wilson." :) Meanwhile his stall mate, "Mrs. Wilson," escaped and was corralled back to the barn by the kids and Avery who dove to catch her hoof to drag her back to her stall.
|Path beside garden beds to the well|
|Piglets born December 26, 2011|
|Avery and friends|
|Rachel Shaw and Rachel Wilson|
The home recently got power. Our friend Joan gifted them a generator, and now they fire it up for a couple hours of light a few evenings a week during study time. We went to the capital Freetown to purchase a CD player, the first music they've ever had around. What an exciting moment when all the sudden while washing dishes at the well, we heard the sound of glorious music playing across the yard. We had a dance party the last night. These kids can dance!
|Martha and I (I love Martha!)|
|Study time before bed|
I brought each child a letter from their sponsor and read it with them individually. These letters are very special to them, especially the pictures of their sponsors. I asked them to read their letter aloud so I could get a sense of how well they could read. It varied from illiterate to semi-proficient. I asked each of them what was their favorite thing about living at MCO; most of them said school and church. A couple of them mentioned how much better it is there than from where they came.
Although things have come a long way, we are not yet finished. Here is a breakdown of what we would like raise funds for in the future:
- Full-time Staff Salary: Educated, live-in house mom: $100/month
- Part-time Staff Salary: Night guard, maintenance man, tutor: $50/month x 3
- Outing fund: These kids do not get out of the village much. Most have never seen the beach or capital that are only about a 30-minute drive away! $100/month
- Sewing/bread-making lessons: $100/month
- Smart-phone: This seems frivolous, but it would actually save hours a week and costs associated with transportation to get to the capital to use the internet cafe. The director could do business from home over 3G on his phone instead. $250
- New perimeter fence: The current stick fence and sheet metal gate are falling apart and have gaping holes. A new, more secure brick fence is badly needed. $8000 (Seems high, but this is 1000's of bricks!)
- Sewing machine: The more skills these kids have, the better. $250
- Brick Bread-making oven: Another skill to learn, and potentially a good business to sell fresh bread to neighbors. $1000
- Barn expansion to house more pigs, a dairy cow, and goats: $5000
- Vehicle: A diesel truck would be very useful for their agriculture work and for private transportation. $15,000 (We have not yet decided if it is wise to pursue this due to high fuel and maintenance costs)
If you would like to contribute to any of these, you can give through an Indianapolis based non-for-profit called Servlife International with whom we have a partnership. Click here to make a donation. Be sure to select Mercy Children's Orphanage" under the "Projects" drop-down menu. Please let me know if you do so we can send our thanks and pictures of how your gift is being used. Please note that 10% of donations goes to Servlife International for their accounting services.
|Dressed up for church (Thanks for making the dresses, Carolyn!)|
After this trip, I am assured that all the work put in and the money raised has been worth it. These are wonderful kids who are happy and loved, who have been given opportunities they would never have had otherwise. I pray these blessings will have a ripple effect for generations to come.
|The good, clean MCO well|
|Off to school|
|Special hair-do by Aminata|
|Emmanuel and Rachel saying goodbye for now|