Ebenezer’s wonderful story: from a difficult first year as a baby to being reunited with his family!

This gorgeous boy went home to his loving father and brother
last week, which is always a special time for all of us at the orphanage and
TST – celebration for the best possible outcome for the child, follow up to
ensure their transition is smooth, and getting used to their absence on a day
to day basis. Ebeni was special for me, though – it truly felt like coming full

I had been at Nkoaranga all of two months when Ebenezer arrived at the
orphanage. Now he is known as Big Ebeni, but he was teeny tiny at the time! He
was extremely premature and sick, and came in together with another little boy
named Riziki, who was in the same situation. These boys brought me back to
reality, and made me realize how much the orphanage needed help. All the other
children who had arrived at the orphanage as new-borns since my arrival
(Maureen, Vicky, Filipo, and Franky) were healthy and thriving. But that is not
always, or even often, the case with orphaned children, and my eyes were opened
the day Ebeni and Riziki arrived.
I was terrified to hold either of them for a long time – they were so tiny, you
could feel and see all of their bones, their tiny hearts beating in their
chests. And then Riziki passed away, tragically, just as he had started to gain
weight, and I never got a chance to know him. His death shocked me into
consciousness of how serious the plight is in Tanzania – that orphanage work is
necessary because death is everywhere, and impossible to hide from. It pushed
me to move to orphanage work full time, to focus on Ebeni, to invest time and
energy and money into his care so that he could pull through – and in working
with Mama Pendo on his care, we realized how similar our visions were, and a
hazy vision that would grow into TST began to take shape.

Ebeni is the epitome of our goal for TST and Nkoaranga Orphanage’s role in the
community. It is extremely unlikely that he would have survived those first
months without the formula, round the clock caretakers, and numerous extended
hospital stays that would not have been possible had he remained with his
widowed father. However, his dad and brother visited regularly for all four
years of his stay in the orphanage, and worked continuously until they were
stable enough to take him home. The orphanage served essentially as respite
care for a family going through crisis, and allowed them ultimately to survive
and stay together. I could not be happier or prouder for Ebeni or for his
beautiful family, and I hope we will see more and more of these full circles
closing as we move forward!
Benny with his happy father and brother!