As many of us are celebrating our high school and university graduates here in the western part of the world, we as Orphan Relief and Rescue are also celebrating equal milestones in the children’s lives who, without your help, some would not be alive today.

Tim and I returned on May 17th from our Africa travels. The day we flew out, we had the privilege of taking five of the older children from our Orphanage Safe Home to the city.  They will work in a hotel for two months as a final practical requirement to their 3-year apprenticeship program at the hotelerie/baking school. By September, each of our graduates will have their Chef and Hotelerie certification, which will allow them to be able to get a job at any restaurant or hotel in Benin, which is a huge privilege.

As we drove for three hours to the city, I began to ask the young adults, who are between the ages of 19 to 22, to remind me of their stories of when we first brought them into the home eight years ago. Each one shared their experience of being the very first children to arrive at the Safe Home, and how their whole life was changed the moment they came onto our program. It was their  first glimmer of hope for a bright future from a life of incredible pain and suffering.

The young man sitting in front of me was the last to share. He said, Rebecca my story is long and I won’t go into all the details now, but I would have died had you not taken me into your home. My aunt and Uncle, who I moved in with after my parents died, were terrible to me. They beat me, used me for every type of work, and hardly fed me any food.

I ran away from them to save my life.  I was told by other relatives that the social welfare office was talking about a white woman who was opening a home for true orphans, and that if I could just get to the meeting place on the exact day you were going to be there, then I could be saved.

With determination in his eyes, he looked at me, and said, Rebecca I was near death when I got to the place you were supposed to be, and no one was there for a whole day and night.  I did not know if I was going to live or die, because I thought my body may not be able to last until you showed up.  I later found out that he had been sleeping in a tree in the jungle so he would not be eaten by animals and had not eaten in days when we brought him into our home.

It was difficult to not have tears well up in my eyes as he was sharing. Little did we know on that day eight  years ago, the magnitude of what we were actually facilitating.  All 60 children have unbelievable survival stories.  Children in Benin and Liberia rarely share their hardship stories, but as the years go by, we are beginning to get their detailed account of God’s miraculous hand of mercy upon each of their lives.

What is also very evident, is that it takes people like you and me to say “yes”, to bring these rescue missions into existence. We are so grateful for the many of you who choose to give and to pray for these children. You are making an INCREDIBLE difference with us. Thank you!

With summer approaching quickly, this is a great time to challenge our own children here in America or Europe, to help the children in great need in West Africa.  Particularly with getting our rescued children ready to go back to school in September.

To do this, we are launching our Kids Helping Kids campaign again this summer, to raise finances for school uniforms, backpacks, school supplies and school fees. It will cost us around $20,000 USD to get our 300 + children back into school.  254 of these children are ones who we have intercepted from becoming trafficked. By providing for them to go to school and putting them on our feeding program, they are kept from being sold.

You can download the Kids Helping Kids packet which gives simple and fun fundraising tools, ideas, and step by instructions to get started!

Have a wonderful summer!

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