Thanks to a very generous donation from Brian and Marika Martin of North Carolina, The Baobab Home opened it’s doors to orphaned and abandoned babies on December 24th, 2008. The Home was opened in honor of Myles Martin, in the hope that one day, all children will be loved as much as Myles is. The Martin’s funding enabled us to have a great first year. The Martin Family of Tennessee have enabled much of the running of the Children’s Home for 2009, but funding is an ongoing need, and donations are always very gratefully received
We know that orphanages are not the ideal way to bring up a child. Through our outreach, we aim to keep children with their extended families and out of orphanages, including ours. Unfortunately, there are times when babies are abandoned, or there is no extended family willing to take an orphaned child in, even if they are given help. The Baobab Home is a place where they are welcomed into a family setting, given love, balanced meals, education, medical care and no discrimination about their HIV status.
It is our hope that children can return to extended families when they are three years old, or when the family situation stabilizes. If the child has extended family living, we will work with them so that they maintain a relationship to the child. We will promote reunification if possible. We also encourage the idea of adoption among Tanzanian and expatriate families.
The Baobab Home will strive to set a new standard in orphan care. Too many orphanages in sub Saharan Africa do not have the resources to do much more than give the bare minimum to children. We will keep our size in proportion to our resources so that children receive high quality care. Every child will leave our care with a book containing pictures of them, what we know of their history, and a few stories about their early development. We want them to know that they were loved and cared for.
Hadija was the first baby to come to us. Her mother died of cholera and Hadija was brought to live with extended family who did not want her. She lost weight and was a frightened little girl when she came to us. She’s now five and doing just fine. Hadija loves her brothers and sisters dearly. She’s feisty for sure, but a sweet beautiful girl.
Laura was abandoned in a bus station. When her mother was found it was learned that she had already killed Laura’s older sibling. We named Laura after our former Board President, Laura Guyer who has done so much to enable Baobab to help so many. Baraka means “blessing”. Little Laura is a healthy girl and loves to emulate her sisters Hadija and Faiza. She’s constantly dancing and singing.
In a concerted effort to reunify Laura with her estranged father, ‘Baba Laura,’ we have been the catalyst for his continued sobriety. He is currently living and working at the Shamba while he grows his relationship with Laura.
Believe it or not, Faidha is 9 years old. She has triumphed over a lot of illness in her short life but it has taken a hard toll on her developmentally. Since coming to Baobab however, she has thrived. She’s gained weight and grown several inches taller. Corrective shoes have improved her gait. She’s become more verbal and a speech therapist gave us exercises to improve her speaking. She is an absolute joy.
Omi and Adamu
Omi and Adamu are brothers who were abandoned by their mentally ill mother in December 2009. At the time, Omi was two years old and Adamu was just two months. They have brought a lot of excitement and laughs to the Baobab family.
At that time Omi was frighteningly malnourished. He was emaciated and could not walk at all. He had a ‘tongue tie’ that prevented him from speaking. In just a few short months he gained a lot of weight, his hair has returned to normal color and consistency and he is walking everywhere. We got his tongue ‘untied’ and now a speech therapist has visited and given us exercises to help him talk. Now Omi is thriving. He attends preschool with his sisters. Omi is a fun loving and creative four year old.
Adamu is a super baby! From the minute he arrived we knew he was going to be very physically active. He is reaching all his physical milestones very early. Early on he tested positive for HIV antibodies. Logically we knew that this could just be from his mother, but we accepted the fact that he was likely positive. At last test, no antibodies!! Adamu is almost three years old and is the entertainer of Baobab with his superhuman physical abilities.
Sabra came to us after her mother passed away from phenomena comprised by AIDS and her father was nowhere to be found. At the time, Sabra was six years old and devastated by the loss of her beloved mother. Now, she is a happy eight year old who loves her brothers and sisters dearly. Sabra loves to dance and sing especially with the HIV positive youth group that baobab supports. She is a very responsible little girl who is good about taking her medicine and although she is skinny as a rail, she is very healthy. We have located Baba Sabra and we are in regular contact in hopes of reunification.
Kenneth was abandoned at a church in Dar es Salaam by his mother. When Terri and George picked him up from social service he was five months old. We named him Kenneth Michael after Baobab donors extraordinaire Kenneth and Michael. Little Kenneth was a very healthy baby until about his first birthday when his health began to decline and he tested positive for HIV. Now he’s almost two and is the baby of baobab. His health is relatively stable and he enjoys immense amounts of love and attention from his older siblings. Kenneth loves to imitate his big brother, Adamu, and has a laugh that is contagious.
Habibu & Shabani
Although they don’t live inside Baobab Home, Habibu and Shabani were the first kids we took on total care of back in 2006. They were severely malnourished and we thought Shabani would die. Their mentally ill mother is completely unable to care for them and they were shunned by family. Now they are cared for by none other than dear Halima, who has raised so many children in need over the years. The boys will always be developmentally delayed due to their malnutrition, but they are doing well now.
Due to the developmental delays, Hibabu is currently in a special education class and he is extremely small for his age. He is a very funny 12 year old who hates brushing his teeth and if he had it his way, he would live off of mangos.
Shabani is slightly hindered by his prior malnutrition; however, he is a very active first grader. Despite all of his hardships, he is the happiest eight year old in Bagamoyo. His enormous smile can’t help but rub off on everyone he comes across.
No Longer Staying With Us:
Dee was found in a field. We named her Dee after Dee Hahn Rollins, a longtime Baobab supporter who died the day Dee was found. Sweet Dee was adopted by an American family living in Tanzania. She has a new name, but we all remember her fondly as Dee.
Georgey was the first child to live at Baobab. He was found wandering around our town. He is mentally disabled and unable to speak much so we didn’t know where he was from. After weeks of searching based on little clues he gave us, Terri went on national TV with him. The next morning his father arrived. We got him on anti seizure medication and are still looking for a sponsor to send him to a school for the disabled.
Mdoe & Steve
Mdoe and Steve are half brothers from Dar, orphaned to HIV. Their grandmother lost 4 of her 5 children to HIV and was very challenged to take care of these boys. Eventually we reunited Mdoe with his birth mother and he is now thriving.
Steven passed away in February 2010. After three months of trying we succeeded in getting Steve’s ARV medicine changed to the second line, which was a big victory but it was not enough. Steven succumbed to Karposis Sarcoma, a type of cancer that should never have been allowed to spread to his lungs as it did. He came to us too late. Please see the page for our primary school named in Steven’s honor.
Mohammed’s mother died shortly after he was born due to HIV related illness. His family gave him toddler food very early which is dangerous. A concerned neighbor alerted us to his case. Mohammed stayed with us for just under two years, during which time he became a funny, active little boy. In December 2009 he returned to his grandparent’s home. They have a farm and plenty of food and now that Mohammed is off formula and well developed, they can care for him. We miss you Mohammed!
Recently Baobab helped move Bariki and his mother (also Faiza’s mother) to Mbeya Tanzania. They are now in the care of an Aunt who makes sure they take their ART medicine.
Martin was born December 7, 2009 in Bagamoyo. His mother died in childbirth. Martin was named after the entire Martin family who have helped us so much. The name seems to have brought him luck because we found his father and reunited them in December 2011. Martin is now happy and living in Kigoma in the care of his aunt, who lost her only son when he fell from a tree.