|My first trip to Zimbabwe in 2008|
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find how you yourself have altered."
I have been traveling to Africa several times a year since 2008 when I went to Zimbabwe with dreams of adopting a baby girl that had been abandoned. She was named Loveness by the hospital staff who cared for her after she was delivered to the hospital in a dirty wheelbarrow. A local man had found Loveness and three other babies, all a few weeks old, abandoned in the nearby fields. This was the height of the cholera epidemic and the collapse of the economy.
After I received the call about Loveness, I arrived in Zimbabwe a few weeks later with six suitcases of supplies for the babies donated by friends and family in the United States. I was thrilled to become a mother again. Sadly, I arrived to the news that the baby I wanted to adopt died a few days earlier. I've read that sometimes the worst thing that can happen in your life, can pave the way for some of the best things to happen. That's what happened to me in Zimbabwe.
|HOL founder Betsy with Cheepo in 2009|
After burying Loveness on December 2, 2008, the matron of the hospital helped me move the children into a private home with a caregiver. They had little chance of survival at the hospital. That trip, I left Zimbabwe without a baby but I did have a list of needs for the children that had been abandoned.
Now, four years later, all these children are in school and we all are living beyond the wounds of the past. The gift for me has been the kindness of people from all over the world who have volunteered time or given money to support these children. Thank you.
|Cheepo at school in 2012|
Even in Zimbabwe, a country with 95% unemployment, many locals have volunteered to help improve the lives of the children supported through HOL. Zimbabweans have helped put in a well so the kids had water at school, given seeds to start a vegetable garden for the children, donated books, delivered groceries and driven the kids to doctor appointments. The local doctors have treated the children free of charge.
This past December, the local community gathered to celebrate as several of the HOL children graduated from first grade. This was an amazing accomplishment in a country where many children drop out of school. Or never go to school at all.
With the help of local Zimbabweans and the support of donors in the US, UK and Finland, the HOL children are beating the odds.
|House of Loveness children Tariro and Cheepo at their graduation in December 2012|
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