Ministry responds to extreme orphan problem, community care in Tanzania

By February 28, 2012

Tanzania (MNN) — For most of their history, Orphan's Heart has been focused on helping children across Latin America (with the exception of one program in Uganda). Now, the needs in one other African nation are so great that Orphan's Heart felt compelled to pursue work there as well.

Orphan's Heart was approached by Small Steps for Compassion in the fall of 2011. The Florida-based group asked Orphan's Heart to consider joining them in their work with orphaned and disadvantaged children in Tanzania.

The statistics of need in the East African nation are staggering, says Ron Gunter, Vice President for International Childcare at Orphan's Heart. "Tanzania ranks fourth in the world for the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS. More than 1.4 million people live with AIDS. 42% of their population is under the age of 14. There are about 1,300,000 orphans due to the AIDS problem."

With such an incredible need not only for orphan care, but for community education, Orphan's Heart and Small Steps for Compassion agreed to start work on an orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. Arusha is very near to tourist-attraction Mt. Kilimanjaro but remains an incredibly impoverished region. It's no exception to the statistic that 9 of 10 Tanzanians live on less than $1.25 per day.

The project to serve this area is making headway. Already, the property has been purchased, and one small building is free to take in children. Orphan's Heart just got the legal clearance necessary for kids to stay there. These are just the beginning steps in what is to be a complex full of house parent-led orphan homes, as well as a haven for the community.

"We have a tremendous focus not only to meet the needs of those children that will be living in the orphanage, but also the surrounding community." Orphan's Heart is in the region "to be the presence, the hands and the feet of Jesus," explains Gunter.

The community outreach will be vast. "We want to provide medical care on the site of the orphanage. We want to provide clean water for the community," says Gunter. "We want to provide educational programs for the community on nutrition and parenting issues. We want to provide other food sources for the community."

Clean water will be especially vital for the community since only about half of the Tanzanian population has access to clean water. Orphan's Heart has actually already dug a well which, Gunter says, will be key in sharing more about Christ's "Living Water."

God has opened door after door already, but Orphan's Heart is still at the start of their planning. A great deal of funding is needed for construction and other resources as they begin this new ministry. They also ask for prayers for wisdom as they follow God's call.

Pray for this new, exciting ministry opportunity. If you'd like to help fund it, click here.

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