Our African “Mamas,” Forever They Will Be

By Alexa
Gustavus Trip Participant

I walked through the gate at PEFA with Nicolas clinging to my side, Chance extending her hand, and Boyi whipping out some playing cards with the biggest white smile. I was filled with so much excitement to love on the children and so many ideas to help improve their lives. I was unaware of my role in serving the mothers of the orphanage and how much joy I would receive through doing so.

For many days, Amanda and I have been following around the mothers, mimicking their techniques for cleaning floors, clothes, and dishes. After days of exchanging few words, many gestures, and numerous laughs, we had the opportunity to truly get to know the mothers. We sat and listened while their stories were translated for us. They were so powerful and deeply touching.

Cecile, a 40 year old woman, has been a widow for three years. She has three kids in their senior year of high school. The money she earns buys food and school supplies for her children. Annonciata, a 57 year old woman, has given birth to nine kids. Eight of them and her husband were victims of the genocide. Her remaining daughter is married with six kids. Before coming to PEFA, her house fell down. Her daughter is trying to rebuild it. Louise, a 39 year old woman, is a widow as a result of the genocide. Her mother died four years ago. She left her husband’s family because they hated her. She is now separated from her kids.

These three women have endured so much pain and suffering; they have lost so much, yet continue to give and give. They have dedicated themselves to the precious lives entrusted to them. Their love for the children is evident. Word’s are not necessary to express their love for the Lord. The smiles and energy in the midst of physical and emotional pain is clearly the joy of the Lord. I am so blessed to know Cecile, Annonciata, and Louise. As each woman shared her story, I felt a new sense of connection. I now have an understanding of who they are and where they come from; because of that, serving them has taken on a new meaning for me. I will forever consider them as “mamas,” friends, and sisters in Christ.