Today’s blog post comes from the heart of Traci Cline. Traci serves on Reach Out Orphanage Ministries’ Board of Directors. She has been a Board Member since 2013 and a leader in ROOM’s ministry for even longer. Traci’s passion for children, relational ministry, adoption, missions and empowering orphanages shines through her writing about Mama Tara’s Miskito Orphanage in Puerto Lempira, Honduras, a children’s home demonstrating the tremendous miracles that are possible when God’s people come together.
Bethel and Mama Tara’s ~ By Traci Cline
About seven years ago my Sunday School class (at Bethel United Methodist Church in Midland, North Carolina) started with an itch. An itch to become more giving, more aware, more outwardly focused. Many of us had been involved with missions growing up and were looking for a way to get plugged back in.
At that time I reached out to ROOM and asked if we could be connected to an orphanage. ROOM’s director decided to partner us with Mama Tara’s because it was the poorest orphanage she knew of. We as a group were excited to commit to $150 a month to provide fruits and vegetables for the kids.
For about a year we made our monthly payments and felt good about it. From time to time we got pictures of some really cute kids eating fruit and we would silently pat ourselves on the back. But, before long, that too seemed like not enough. A group of us decided to try and get a trip organized to visit these cute kids from the photos.
After a lot of planning, several bus rides, three planes and a lot of bumps later we landed on a dirt runway in Puerto Lempira, Honduras. That afternoon we walked to Mama Tara’s for the first time. I can’t begin to explain to you the impact of this trip. Yes, I have been on a handful of international mission trips. Yes, I fully enjoyed each of them; however, this time was different. This time I had a connection with the kids. After going there and seeing first-hand how desperate their situation really was I no longer felt “good” about our $150 effort. I actually felt terribly guilty! I couldn’t believe an orphanage that I helped sponsor (i.e. I felt partially responsible for) was in that kind of condition. It was a gut-wrenching, emotional, beautiful week.
At the end of the week, we walked away knowing more than the names of those cute kids. We smelled the insides of the bedrooms. We saw the trash in the yard. We used their outhouse with no door. We saw the lack of safety. The beds were rickety. Their mattresses were lice-infested, urine-soaked, uncovered pieces of foam. We watched the chickens, cats and dogs walk on the table getting scraps left from dinner. We saw the dirty bucket kids drank brown water from when they needed to quench their thirst. We saw the lack of clothes and shoes. We saw the utter darkness. Even though the town sometimes had electricity, the power lines didn’t go out to Mama Tara’s. There was no electricity… it was DARK and, quite frankly, after the sun went down, it was scary. I left knowing we had to go back. I left knowing we had to do more. That was December of 2011. We are in the midst of planning Bethel UMC’s 9th trip back to Puerto Lempira.
To say that we have seen a difference at Mama Tara’s since 2011 is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. We are NOT the only church sending teams. In fact, the U.S. military has even stepped in to help with some projects there. But now, I leave there knowing the kids are safe.
They have nice vinyl-covered mattresses with sheets and bedding. (Pictured left: before, pictured right: presently.)
They have electricity and running water. (Pictured left: before, pictured right: presently)
They have a security fence around the property keeping them safe at night.
The yard is clean. The outhouse is gone. The chickens have a coop. We have gotten to be a part of all of these projects, funding quite a bit of them. While those things are great and make a world of difference I would say the best thing I’ve experienced is getting to know each of the kids by name. I know their names and they know mine. When we land on that dirt runway I know there are going to be lots of hugs and friendly faces gathered around the plane as we step off.
Is there more work to be done? You bet. When a single mom raises 25+ kids, there is always going to be work. Our next project is helping build a fence so they can have a garden and possibly livestock.
Even more exciting, Mama Tara’s is actually in a place now where we can plan outreach projects with the kids. Imagine that… The very kids who seemed so desperate are now in a position to give back to their community. They have sewn up their old backpacks when new ones have arrived and given them out to kids less fortunate. They have participated in feeding projects and housed medical clinics in their home while evangelizing to those who come. It’s beautiful to see. It’s empowering. And shows that when we work together the possibilities are endless and that my friend, is exciting.
Are you looking for a way to get involved? Would you like to be connected with an orphanage that needs your help? Would you like to know the names of some of the most precious vulnerable kids in the world? Contact ROOM’s current director, Amanda Stafford, at Amanda.Stafford@makeroom.org or by calling 704-773-1717. To learn more about ROOM’s Orphanage Care work, and to make a donation to support these projects, please visit www.makeroom.org
While Reach Out Orphanage Ministries continues to proudly partner with Mama Tara’s Miskito Orphanage in Puerto Lempira, Honduras, this children’s home has actually outgrown most of our assistance! ROOM provides continuing support through mission teams, produce and special gifts, but thanks to the tremendous support from groups like Bethel, Mama Tara’s operates independently, with their own Board of Directors and leadership team. This independence is ROOM’s prayer for each orphanage we partner with! To learn more about Mama Tara’s and the children who live there, and to make a donation directly to this children’s home, please visit: http://www.mamatara.org/