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Saturday, August 31, 2013

How and when do the Toddlers to their new home? (And burned baby update).

Let me start by giving you an update on Benjamin, the baby who was set on fire by his father in March 2013 (read Last week he had his colostomy reversed and is the happiest little boy when he celebrated his 2nd birthday with us on Wednesday, August 28th.  He is incredibly musical so I just "had to" buy this little zylophone at the local market and he played it like a pro.  Happy Birthday Miracle Baby Benjamin!

Back to the blog title, and let me say that is a really good question. 

In March 2013 the ground breaking ceremony happened for the Labakhetsiwe Toddler home and the race against time began in earnest.  How fast could Mark and Peter’s construction team get this huge building built?  Would we have to turn away a baby from the El Roi Baby home because we have no room before the new building was built?  A new baby was arriving every second week and sometimes we would get two new babies in a day!  The race really was on … and the team has done an amazing job (and still are)!

The building is almost complete. The kitchen cabinets are in.  Austin Klee has built all the cabinetry for the children and Caregiver bedrooms.  Jere Scott, Frank Tanaanu and Mark Hackett built 22 double bunk beds for the toddlers (from a design in Jere’s head) and outdoor benches for their little shoes.  The plumbing is almost complete and the electricity works… and the babies continue to arrive over at El Roi.

A few weeks ago we had to make a big “temporary” move. In order to take pressure off the El Roi home and staff we moved all our “tinies” up to Kuthula Place. The irony of that is the Kuthula Place was designed to be a “baby-free zone” where our Caregivers could go when they needed a break, a nap, a “time out” or a shower.  Right now we have 13 babies under the age of six months where they are getting lots of individual attention by the Aunties who focus on our littlest ones. 

That left 25 “crawlers” and “walkers” living at El Roi, which was much more manageable.  Next week is the big move (or that is the plan/hope). We will actually move all 25 babies from the El Roi home over to the new building (like a big road trip).  We will move their cribs, clothes and whatever “stuff” will be needed for a week.  It’s like they will all be going to camp.  While they are away at camp we will empty the El Roi Baby home in to a container that is sitting outside the home (and is having shelves from Robert Smucker installed as I type this).  Then we will do a deep clean at El Roi, have the building fumigated to get rid of a nasty cockroach problem and then do minor repairs and repaint the floors. 

When that is all complete we will move 14 “crawlers” back to El Roi and the 11 “walkers” will be stay in their new home, that was camp for the week.  Then the “tinies” will move back home and El Roi will be home to 24 babies again.  Simple eh?  Kuthula Place will become a Place or Peace again and we will all have room to grow :).

The first children to make the Labakhetsiwe their home will be:  Gabriel, Rose, Benjamin, Emmanuel, Caleb, Miriam, Anna, Esther, Levi, David and Joshua.  In the next few months we will move Andrew, Ishmael, Paul and Jeremiah as they become more sturdy on their feet.  Once they can move around and cause chaos (i.e. steal a small baby’s bottle!) then it is time for them to move.

For those of you who are worried about the double bunk, please don’t worry. The big kids who move to the toddler home will move in on the bottom bunk initially and won’t move up top until they are bigger and younger ones move over. 

We have a very busy week ahead with many visitors, volunteers and long-term volunteers (Amber and Kenny VanWinkle moving here!).  While this is a long weekend in Swaziland we have much preparation to do and everyone is busy doing their part.  We pray for peace, wisdom, PATIENCE, love and favor in the days ahead.
I am happy to announce that Baby Emma arrived this week! She is 10-weeks old and weighs 3.4 KG (7.4 lbs).  We are happy to have her home.

We do still need funding for the appliances and furniture for the Toddler home.  To date we have raised $14,637 of the $30,000 that is needed to finish this week.  If you can give, please do so today at

If you live in Canada you can donate at:

Live from Swaziland … I am busy, tired and excited.


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