A New Lease for Tharcisse

01Jan

A New Lease for Tharcisse

Tharcisse's parents were an easy target. Unscrupulous traditional "healers"—of whom there are many in Burundi, one of Africa's poorest nations—knew that their medicines would do nothing to heal Tharcisse's atrophied legs. That didn't stop them, however, from promising his desperate parents that they could cure their precious baby—for a price. Full of hope, they sold their only asset—a small plot of farmland—to pay for his costly treatments. When that money was exhausted, their infant son was no better.

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01Jan

1,000 Warm Toes

A small child stares through a frosted window, studying a freshly-fallen blanket of snow. He longs to run outside to build a snowman, but a white-coated warden tells him that he can't, because his tattered cloth shoes are inadequate to protect his feet and keep them warm. Besides that, he's suffering from tuberculosis, as are the other 120 children with whom he lives inside the same massive, concrete building. Their home is Cornesti Orphanage, one of 43 such state institutions scattered across Moldova, Europe's poorest nation. Cornesti is reserved for children with TB.

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01Jan

Mama Jeanine Under Roof

Outside in the darkness, rain was descending in torrents, pelting the tin roof of my hotel room with a roar. As I lay under a mosquito net on my cushioned bed, I could only think of Mama Jeanine, her children, and their mud house with no roof. I had met Mama Jeanine earlier that day as she was working in a field outside her home village of Mabayi, in Burundi's Rugombo Province. She was helping nine Christian friends hoe a plot of ground that they jointly owned, courtesy of a group micro-loan from Heaven's Family. I learned that she was a widow with five children, and that her actual name was Magdalla Uwimana, but that everyone had been calling her Mama Jeanine since the birth of her daughter, Jeanine. I also learned that she was not a joint owner of the field like the others, but that she always helped them, because together, they looked out for her and her children. They had, in fact, even built her a house.

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