It is my first morning at Mama Lynn’s orphanage, in Moshi, near Mount Kilimanjaro. Our last days in Bagamoyo have definitely prepared me for the adventure to come. Wednesday, we had our last Dance and Mask workshop with elders followed by a lunch at Nashe’s again, and an informal interview on the corruption of witch doctors and woman’s rights in Tanzania. She was so nice and we learned so much about her. She was truly a phenomenal woman. I then found a magnificent painting for my mother of an abstract profile of an African woman. Afterwards, there was a playwriting workshop on the beach that was very informative, followed by a break on the beach, and a wonderful dinner with live music. The bonfire with a drum and my marimba, was the perfect way to end the last night in Bagamoyo. The next day was a 10 hour drive to Mama Lynn’s Light in Africa. I watched Lion King for the first time since I was a child, which was inception because we are in the country Lion King is loosely based. The night we arrived, we were welcomed with a warm delicious meal, and free STRONG WiFi. Mama Lynn told us a number of stories including the dream she had holding a dying baby that was a sign from God telling her to start an orphanage here in Tanzania. She left her family and came here willingly accepting children with severe disabilities and HIV/AIDS. She told us we were a miracle after over a year of no volunteers because of the spread of Ebola virus which didn’t even affect Tanzania…people just lump Africa into one country. She even told us the story of why she took all of her children out of the local government schools: corporal punishment, and her children being beaten because of Mama Lynn’s resistance. She also told us the story of a boy who was kicked out of his house, and very hungry, who waited five days outside of her gates to come in. Another, watched his mother get murdered by his father, another was told he wouldn’t survive and ended up living because of her. Another, was a girl, found tied up to a tree in a cage when they found her, and after Mama Lynn cared for her and potty-trained her, the mother came to the orphanage two years later, trying to take the child back. Later, they discovered that the grandmother and mother were going to sell her into sex trafficking. Mama Lynn teaches her children English, good work ethic, leading them to be educated successful citizens of their society. She never accepts bribes and she never asks for donations, she believes receives them by the grace of God. She’s passionate, full of love, and admirably crazy. Being in her presence and seeing what she does for these kids and adults, and even her dogs and animals, reminds me that with faith ANYTHING is possible. This is only the beginning and I look forward to the rest of my time here.
P.S. “You can’t hate someone whose story you know.” -Unknown