When Teddy was eight years old, she was homeless on the streets of Monrovia, Liberia. Her parents were killed during the 14 year-long civil war. She recalls a childhood of incredible suffering and constant hunger. She remembers sleeping under street market tables at night and dodging bullets by day. These memories are not easy for her to talk about.
As I nuzzled little six-year old David* in my arms, I noticed he had a difficult time receiving this affection. He did not know how to accept such love. He had been completely written off by his relatives after both mother and father died of AIDS. When they had suspicions that he may also have the disease, they did not want to tie themselves to such a child who would soon have the same fate as his parents. So they gave him away, and he ended up in our safe home/orphanage in Benin. The stigma for children with AIDS is terrible in this area of Africa.
Last week, we finally received our container shipment! It was like Christmas at the team house. Not only did we receive a pick-up truck bed full of donated books, but we also got bins and bins full of Child Development Program supplies, and more than 850 pairs of underwear for the children! The amount of donations was overwhelming, and we are very excited to put all of your donations to good use with the children that we serve.
As I'm leaving Liberia in just a few hours, I'd like to take a moment to thank you -- YOU! -- for making this past year such a success.
Together we undertook truly ambitious projects and saw not only physical conditions but children's lives transformed. We dug and rehabilitated several wells. We set up orphanage gardens and farms, training caretakers and children how to get the most out of the soil and seeds. We delivered food to those that needed it most. We provided care for -- and training to prevent -- common illnesses that Liberians suffer through needlessly.
Can you believe that over 2,000 children die everyday around the world from mosquito-borne malaria? In Liberia last year, 21,000 children under the age of five died from malaria. However, Liberians just believe that malaria is normal part of life.
We spend alot of time talking with the directors and children about malaria. Malaria education, prevention and treatment are big focus areas at the beginning of rainy season. This rainy season, we want to make sure that there is a treated mosquito net on every bed in every home.