Letters for Jamaa Letu
By Barbara Dadd Shaffer

After years of saying it was not possible to send letters to the children of our Jamaa Letu orphanages, a one-time opportunity to do so, arose. Ordinarily, personal contact with the children and teens is not allowed for two reasons: fairness is primary, but also there is no functional postal system there.

Letters were distributed at each of the two orphanages during a visit in late October by a delegation from The Pacific Northwest Conference. The kids loved receiving the letters. There were letters for every single child and teen and also for every staff person. Each envelope also included a small gift.

It was fun to watch the children with the letters. They were handed out individually so each child was handed their letter personally. Each responded with ‘Merci.’ A few waited to open theirs until all were delivered but many were too eager. The older residents helped the younger ones. There are enough multi-lingual residents and staff to translate the English into French or Swahili.

As the visit continued, the kids were holding their envelopes. Any envelopes accidentally dropped were quickly retrieved by either the recipient or, for the little ones, by an older resident. Balloons from the envelopes were inflated and bounced around. (Balloons are fun for children of all sizes, including some who are quite tall!)

The letter writing started at The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Sessions during the “Change the World – Community Engagement“ event and continued in several local churches. Photos of each resident were available and letter-writers were encouraged to take the photos with them. As departure time came closer, the members of Stanwood UMC stepped up to complete the project.

How many letters were written? In the orphanages, there are 42 girls, 28 boys, six staff at the boy’s orphanage, eight staff at the girls’ orphanage and six staff at the kindergarten operated by the girls’ orphanage. That’s 90 letters.

On behalf of HFCA, we thank everyone for writing letters and bringing joy to the boys and girls at Jamaa Letu Orphanages.

Barbara Dadd Shaffer serves as chair of the Bishop’s Task Force on Hope for the Children of Africa, Jamaa Letu Orphanages.

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