Portrait of a birthday

 This is my second consecutive birthday at the orphanage – what a blessing. Zawadi’s name itself means gift – and she’s the best one I could ask for. They’ve changed so much since last year, though! This was my happy birthday reception from them last year – although the video was taken two weeks after the birthday itself, they didn’t quite understand the concept and just thought it kept going on and on. Very sweet!

Here is the kids this morning, all saying hi, and then singing the “Nakpenda (I love you)” song that I made up to sing to them last year. Usually one of their names goes in the middle – they put mine in. They are my heart.

The computer seems to be cooperating with me, at least for now, so I’m going to hurry up and upload some pictures before I lose everything. So without further ado, the kids.

Mama Andrew and Shugya, 4 months and thriving
From right, Loveness, Andrea, Neema, Miriam, Mauren and Dainess playing on the new see saw
Little Peace – doubled in size and doing really well!
Little Froggy Frankie all grown up and chunky as ever
Beautiful Loveness with flowers in her hair
Mama Pendo helping Neema to brush her teeth
Mama Pendo brushing Zawadi’s teeth – she’s wearing one of the mama’s headscarves!
A volunteer holding little Maureen, while big Maureen  holds Shugya. She loves helping!
The sisters – Pendo (left) and Zawadi (still in her mama headgear). They look more alike every day!
Me and my little man Simoni – guess who is who?

The playground is looking fantastic – we lucked out, and a local small volunteer organization has had two of their volunteers raising funds to redo it as well. It’s actually almost done – but we’re going to add a few finishing touches, including a huge climbing frame (the kids climb on EVERYTHING so it’ll be good to have something designed to withstand it!). The kids are loving it, and I’m loving seeing them playing together – it’s such an important part of what makes this place special, the relationships they develop.

I met with the electrician and solar expert yesterday – it was really useful, and we’re close to finalizing plans for redoing the dangerous orphanage electrical system (which caused the fire a few years ago which seriously injured Pray and David Kubwa), putting in solar lighting for when the power is out (see Emily’s rendition of In the Jungle for alternative coping strategies), and possibly expanding even further – I’ll explain more when we’ve made final decisions!

As many of you know, Pendo has a little bit of a rough history – and it meant until we were able to track down some extended family a few weeks ago, we weren’t sure exactly how old she was. We were under the impression that she was four. However, it turns out that she just had her FIFTH birthday – and after talking to the orphanage teacher, it sounds like she’s actually all ready for school. We already have 3/4 of her sponsorship secured – is there any chance that someone out there was planning on doing another quarter sponsorship and just hasn’t decided yet? This gorgeous girl could use your help.

I’m so grateful for all the support we’ve received – Thank you especially to my amazing family, who have poured in from all over the world to help the kids. To everyone else, I can’t wait for you to see the looks on the kids’ faces when Christmas comes!

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