Into the Latrine
Missionaries determine to help rescue abandoned newborns in their area.
“Suzan, I cannot believe this. This is horrible!” Though I have lived in Tanzania several years, I had never heard about the fate of many newborns in the villages surrounding our school. Suzan, one of our teachers, had just told me how they were often thrown into latrines, abandoned in the forest, strangled, suffocated, etc.—simply because their young mothers found them bothersome.
“But Nadege,” Suzan replied, “this happens very often! The mothers spend one or two nights in prison, but then they are declared inculpable for their actions because of the intensity of childbirth.”
A few weeks later, I heard of a baby not far from us who had suffered exactly the fate Suzan had described. A lady passing through the village, suddenly needing to relieve herself, ran up to a latrine. To her horror, she heard a baby’s cries from within. When she shouted for help, the neighbors came and broke the latrine, rescuing the child. They beat the mother, but then they forced her to take her baby and care for it!
I could not believe my ears. Why had they given the baby back to the pitiless mother? We tried to get more information from church members living in that village, but they only told us, “Yes, she tried to kill the baby, but now she is perfectly happy with it. This happens so often, we already forgot about it.”
My heart wanted to scream. Why did the Lord call the church if not to relieve suffering and show God’s love? I would have gone to speak with the mother, but locals told me this would not be wise. “People can stone you for putting your nose in their business!” they warned.
“We should get in touch with the district social worker,” Elisha suggested. Before any of us could make it to her office, however, Elisha and I happened to study Isaiah 58. Turning to Ellen White’s writings for more insight, we read: “Fatherless and motherless children are thrown into the arms of the church, and Christ says to His followers: Take these destitute children, bring them up for Me, and ye shall receive your wages.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 33. Reading further, we found a long passage about raising orphans for the Lord—and how the church was not answering this call of God. Was God trying to tell us something?
The next day, Suzan had to go to town, so she stopped by the social worker’s office. The social worker got right onto the case, but because the village leaders denied the incident, she said the situation would require some investigation. As Suzan turned to leave, the social worker stopped her. “We heard about the mission in Mago and about the little girl the missionaries took in.[*] We would like to meet the missionaries so we can work with them. We do not have many people who are willing to take little babies. Please ask them to call us.”
We set up a meeting, trusting God to make the path ahead clear. We do not run an orphanage—we have only been educating teenage dropouts; but if God sends us His suffering little ones, we will take as many as He entrusts us with and place them in families on campus. Only God knows His plans, but we have determined to be our Father’s helping hands to “defend the poor and fatherless”! Psalm 82:3.
[*] In July 2017, we took in a little girl whose mother had stopped feeding her, giving her alcohol in the place of food.
Nadege Vande Voort and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. You can reach them by emailing harvester2188 [at] gmail [dot] com. Their address is Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.
How You Can Help
Pray for wisdom for Elisha and Nadege and their staff as they consider taking on the added challenge of raising orphans. Pray that they will have strength and resources for whatever new work God may be calling them to.
Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission in Tanzania by marking your donation “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” and sending it to:
Outpost Centers International
5132 Layton Lane
Apison, TN 37302
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