I’m a 65-year-old, twice divorced former computer nerd who, after serving two years in the Peace Corps in Madagascar, decided this would be the ideal place to retire. My original Peace Corps host family (in Mantasoa, where Peace Corps’ Training Center is located) started calling me “Mama Leeza” because both of my host “parents” are younger than my eldest child. I was never able to get used to calling either one “nene” (mom) or baba (dad), instead calling them by their given names.
Living in a dirt poor developing nation is loaded with wonder and pretty much each day presents a new adventure to navigate.
I love it here.
ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about living here is that, because the cost of living is SO low, a very little amount of help goes a LONNNNGGGGGGGG way, so all of the little things I do to improve the quality of life for my orphanage kids has a deeper impact than one might imagine. I normally don’t use the term, “orphan,” because the large majority of the kids living in the two orphanages I support have parents, and a family. But for a variety of reasons, they either ended up living on the street, or were removed from their family by the state, for their own protection. Almost none of them are truly orphans, and adoption here really isn’t a thing. A child living in an orphanage will likely never leave until they age-out when they turn 18.
We also have one special needs child, Rija, whose family attempted to murder him via poison because they couldn’t bear the shame of having a child who isn’t perfect. When Rija overheard their discussion planning his fate, he went to a nearby clergyman who not only rescued him but called the police, and thankfully, those folks are now in jail. And Malagasy jails are some of the worst in the world.
I ask that you take the time needed to explore each of the pages here so you can see what it is I do, how I do it, and how you can help. We are ALWAYS in need of additional funds, and your donation will help spread joy to a child whose only crime was having been born to a family that couldn’t adequately care for, or didn’t appreciate them.
We are changing the dreams they have. We are giving them hope. We are showing them unconditional love, introducing them to experiences they might never have – like having cake with ice cream. Yes, something as simple as cake and ice cream just isn’t a thing here, and the first time I gave this to my orphanage kids, they were over the moon. Plenty of them had had cake, or ice cream, but never together. Little things.
Little things can change a life in countless ways. I ask that you please consider donating to our cause, any amount will help, and the lives you change will be forever made better.
And remember, you’re never given a dream without the power to make it come true.