Two days in…

February 16, 2010

Dear Friends,

We have only been here 2 days and already there is more to write about than space allows. First, let’s go through a very quick history lesson.

The American War of Independence in the 1770s provided an opportunity for thousands of slaves to gain freedom by fighting for Britain. When the war ended, over 15,000 ex-slaves made their way to London, where they suffered unemployment and poverty. In 1787 a group of philanthropists purchased 52 square kilometers of land in present-day Sierra Leone from a local chief for the purpose of founding a “Province of Freedom” for ex-slaves. This became Freetown, today’s capital of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is probably best known to the American public by the 10 year civil war that ended in 2002. The civil war garnered regular media coverage due to widespread atrocities committed by rebel soldiers, many of them not yet in their teens.

Now you may be asking… Why are we here? Just Hope International is partnering with a nonprofit to address the impact that the civil war had on children and particularly orphans. There are currently over 350,000 orphans living in Sierra Leone and less than 1800 live safely in care centers. This begs the question, “Where are the others?” The condition that most of these children are living in, whether in a refugee camp, with extended family members, or on the street, is deplorable.

Proverbs 24:12 states, “Once our eyes are opened…we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do…God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know and hold us responsible to act.”

We have seen and we cannot, we will not turn away. The children are sick, malnourished and are uneducated. When I have been in areas where the children are not being cared for, they have run to us and clung to us. Such an overwhelming need to be held, to have someone care about them.

A temporary building currently houses 46 orphans, who are receiving the right kind of loving care children need. They are receiving medical attention, being fed a nutritious diet, going to school and most importantly, loved. Our Hope is to purchase land, build a home and take care of as many children as we can rescue from the streets, refugee camps and the abuse from people wanting to exploit them. Notice I said build a home, not an orphanage. Because once in our care, they will know they are loved and that they have a huge family. And that family will be the caregivers in Sierra Leone and all the supporters of Just Hope who will help us on our journey.

I truly believe one person can make a difference in the world and that person is always the one looking back in the mirror. I hope you will follow our story while we’re here in Sierra Leone and share it with as many friends as possible. We are ready for the challenge and invite you to join us.