WithumSmith+Brown just completed our second annual “Withum Week of Caring,” with over 400 individuals donating time to over 40 local organizations. Giving Back at Withum, however, occurs around the year and around the world. This is a story of Doris Martinez from our Red Bank office, who traveled to Africa this past summer to serve those in need, but gained so much more in return.
In August, I travelled 8,089 miles to Maputo, Mozambique, a country located in the south eastern part of Africa to work in an orphanage for three weeks. I chose this particular orphanage – Zimpeto Children’s Centre (http://www.irismin.org/zimpeto) after a happenchance meeting in 2011 with Laura, a mission worker who resides at the orphanage and was in New Jersey visiting with her mom who is a member of the same church I attend. Laura had so much enthusiasm for the work she does with the centre and children she cares for, that I decided to visit her to share in her excitement.
Zimpeto Children’s Centre houses about 300 children ages newborn to 20. While most of the children are orphans who have lost their parents, some parents choose to have their children live there because they cannot provide for their kids. The orphanage has several dorms for the kids, a church (which is also the dining room), school rooms and a medical unit. The orphanage feeds and educates the local community, as well.
A typical day for me included waking up to a siren at 6 am, followed by the breakfast siren at 7 am. The kids would be in school until the lunch siren at 12:30 pm. After lunch I would help Laura in her dorm give extra schooling to her boys (she is dorm mom to 30 boys ages 4-8). This would include helping them learn to write their names, learning the alphabet and doing a craft project. A siren would sound at 4:30 pm for showers, followed by the dinner siren at 5:30 pm. Most nights you could find me in the toddler house (kids 1-3 years old) helping with dinner, baths and putting the kids to bed at 6:30. If I was not in the toddler house, I would be in the nursery feeding and holding the infants.
In addition to helping with the kids, I would help with ministry work. We would go to the local jail and minister to the prisoners, the local hospital and pray for the sick, sing on the street corners with the kids and minister to those less fortunate who lived on the garbage dump seeking food scraps from the drop offs.
Despite the living conditions in Mozambique, the children at the orphanage get three meals a day (bread and rice are the staples of most meals), an education and are well loved by the missionary workers. Most children have very few possessions, but they are always smiling and ready for hugs from those who will give them.
Thank you all for the gifts you have given me to take to the kids. I know I came away with much more than I left behind. Would I go back to sleeping in a mosquito net, cold showers, hand washing of my clothes, no TV or internet access and minimal food……yes, I am planning on returning in July 2013.