Our fantastic little guy Andrea turned five a week ago today. He is starting school in January with the help of My African Child, a Danish organization that has taken on his sponsorship. Andrea is a sweet and funny kid - and so smart! He is constantly translating for the volunteers, and loves helping in any way he can. He often gets so excited to tell you something that he stutters his way through it! And when he was little... oh did this boy have chub. He gives Frankie a run for his money on the fat baby scale! Thanks to former volunteers for the baby pictures - from being a baby to carrying one on his back! (Don't forget that we're still a few hundred dollars away from the up front fees needed to start our kids into school - check out the details and consider donating at the Education page!)
Neema is a little ray of sunshine with the greatest dimples in existence, and she is turning three on Saturday the 27th. She is a delicious little butterball, always cheerful and cooperative - and she's loved having her picture taken since she was tiny! As soon as a camera comes out, Neema is ON IT, usually smiling and saying "Ndizi!" which means banana - it's the Swahili version of saying "Cheese!" and Neema is the expert.
And then there's Zawadi, my Zi. Technically nobody knows exactly when Zawadi's birthday is - she was brought into the orphanage after her mother died and father ran away, by relatives who hadn't known she was born until her mother passed away - it appears that her father was abusive and may have been involved in her mother's passing. I was so heartbroken by the idea of her having a birthday of October 0, 2009, which is what her file said when I met her, that we decided to give her the seventeenth. So today is her third birthday, or as close to it as we can hope to know. Zi has overcome malnutrition and bad rickets, and is now one of the healthiest kids at the orphanage (although she's still tiny!). She's incredibly smart, talkative, funny, and gorgeous - not that I'm a little biased! As many of you know, I am currently in the early stages of the adoption process with this angel (and Simoni). As much as it's killing me to be away, I am proud to say this will be her last birthday as an orphan.
Zawadi splashing at a trip to the hot springs in August
This is the end of our insane crush of birthdays, at least until the end of November when Vicky and Filipo turn two. It's also a "birthday" for me - I first arrived in Tanzania on October 14th, 2010, and my first trip to Nkoaranga was that very next week. We're coming up on two years that I've been part of these kids' lives, and vice versa - I can't remember what my life was like before them, and it also feels like it has gone by so incredibly fast. I am truly blessed.