Happy Birthday Dainess!

Today is our gorgeous girl Dainessi’s sixth birthday, and I thought it would be a good time to share with you some updates from their first month of school, and a few of my favorite Dainess moments. 

She’s so proud of her missing teeth! 
Baby Dai

Dai has had a strong personality from day one, as is obvious from looking at any of the baby pictures we’ve been given by former volunteers. She is just the most confident, gorgeous, dramatic, LOUD little girl imaginable. One of the big problems with children from institutionalized care is often that they are withdrawn and don’t express their needs, because they’re used to them not being met. I’ve seen this in person in other facilities. We DEFINITELY don’t have that problem at Nkoaranga – and what a beautiful thing that is! Dainess lets you know exactly what she’s feeling, all the time – every thought she has shines straight through her face, which leads to some hysterical pictures. She loves attention and loves to perform. I absolutely cannot wait to see what this girl is going to do with her life – she is a force of nature.

From left: Ericki, Dainess and Stevie holding their presents

Dainess started school on January 9th, with Stevie and Ericki, at USA River Academy with the help of The Foundation For Tomorrow. Before they left, we wanted to give them a little something to keep with them. These were their first personal possession, the first items that had ever been just theirs – a book called “Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby.” The book is mostly in English but tells the story of a day in Tanzania, and repeats the line, “Lala Salama, little one” – “Good night, little one” – throughout, along with gorgeous illustrations. We hope if they ever feel lost or scared or alone, they can hold those books close and know we love and miss them, every minute of every day – and we’re so incredibly proud of how far they’ve come. Below are a few pictures taken by TFFT staff of the kids on their first night at school.

Wearing the PJs – Dai is giving us a look, not sure why!
The kids outside their new home, holding their PJs

Despite everything they’ve been through, they are so incredibly loving and trusting – a true testament to the incredible work that the mamas and volunteers have done with them over the years. I am and continue to be inspired by these kids’ strength, smarts, and heart, every day. Happy birthday, Dainessi – I can’t wait to see where this year will take you! 
Dainess saying (a slightly uncertain) thank you to her sponsor – my mom! 
None of this would be possible without the commitments of the kids’ sponsors. A huge thank you goes out to this year’s sponsoring families – the Harts, Goldbergs, Crisps, Al-Azawies, and Butlers. Please take a look at our amazing kids starting school next year, and see if you have space in your family and your heart for one more! Even if you can’t make a long term commitment, please consider contributing towards their education fund – we’ll need to raise two years’ tuition for each child to get them enrolled, and every penny helps. 
On an unrelated but exciting note: take a look at how big and strong little Peace is getting! Such a long way from the premature little waif he was, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.