But this morning I got this email. Perfect timing. My wonderful friend Chris Cheek is in Swaziland right now, serving a 2 year commitment to live on Project Canaan, be a grandmother (Gogo) to the children living in the toddler home and a mentor to the Aunties. She is one of the most amazing, fabulous, incredible people I have ever met. You need to know her. Seriously. And she gave me permission to share this week's email update!
So here you go:
Greetings from Project Canaan!
This can't be real, it has to be a movie - a fictional place made up in the mind of a master writer. Please yell "cut."
First the most important news - we had the arrival of the 6th baby since I arrived in Swaziland. It is so hard to wrap my arms around the fact that in my 11 weeks in Africa we have become home to 6 more abandoned babies.
There are days that I feel like I must be on a movie set & someone is going to yell "cut." We are on 2500 acres of some of the most beautiful mountain views & farm land I've ever seen. I begin my mornings to the voices of the most angelic sounds of little ones singing "building up the Temple of the Lord, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABC, Jesus Loves the Little Children" echoing down the hallway into my room. Soon the songs are followed by the patter of little feet heading to the bathroom.
Each day I learn & see more and more of their unique personalities just blossoming. Lucy shaking her finger back & forth as she tells you something, Joshua calling me Gogo Cheap, Elisha's mischievous laughter, Esther showing her latest booboo, Rose's twinkle in her eyes, John saying, "you be nice" Gabriel saying "Gogo sit here,". Leah & Rachel just being sassy to our very own Project Princess Deborah.
Shapes, letters, numbers and colors are being learned from Kindergarten down to preschool. Afternoon playtime on the playground, adventure walks around the farm, fun in the pools, bubbles, toy dump trucks, wagon rides, baby dolls, sandbox, slides & swings, soccer balls & books. All the fun things you would imagine for a child.
Healthy meals, snacks, fresh milk, fruits & clean water. Clean clothes & shoes. Warm fuzzy pjs for winter & cool cotton ones for hot summer nights.
Laughter & giggles, tears & runny noses and shoes on the wrong feet. Sunglasses upside down, chicken feathers in hair & rocks in pockets. All the things that goes with being 2, 3, & 4.
Then I remember these babies were left to die; abandoned in lonely dangerous forests, pit latrines, plastic bags, in rivers along side the road. Parents without jobs, no hope, no way to provide, sick & broken. So deep in the darkness they can not find their way out, let alone see any light.
When will someone yell "cut?"
I have to be on a movie set. This can't be real. It is 2015 and a country is dying, the average age is about 18, 40% of the population is under the age of 15, the average life expectancy is between 29 & 33, there are orphaned children everywhere, there are GoGos taking care of their children's children, their nieces & nephews children and maybe a few of their neighbors. They are tired & exhausted. They walk 30 minutes for dirty water out of the river. No electricity, living In a round hut made of sticks & stones. Praying for rain to water the fields so the maze will grow so they eat for the upcoming year, praying that the rains aren't so strong that their hut washes away & they have to start a new.
When will someone yell "cut?"
Ohhh my friends it is all so real & their is no "cut." It is all real, the days are long, the reality is heart breaking. But there is HOPE.....it is happening at Project Canaan. I get to see it & live it every day. The HOPE lies in the future of all the little ones that come through that front gate .... For their lives will be the ones that will make the difference. So Lucy keep shaking your finger, Leah & Rachel keep being sassy, John keep saying "you be nice" and Deborah you keep on being out Princess. Let the songs ring out in the morning, the laughter echo down the hall, dancing in the yard & hugs through out the day. The HOPE of Swaziland lives at Project Canaan!
This journey continues....