Carolyn Belshe (Teles) Orphanage was opened in 1979 and is a 45 minute drive from Chicuque Rural Hospital. We were warmly welcomed with singing and flowers by the orphans and staff of the centre. It is one of the many projects conceptualized and run by the Women's Society (UMW) in Mozambique.
I counted 24 children altogether. Eleven of these were kids ranging from one to five years old while the rest were teenagers with 14 of them of school-going age. Two teenage boys are visibly mentally unstable and acted funny throughout our period of visit. It was explained that they suffer from war trauma.
The orphans were all brightly dressed up but hungry-looking even though they seemed to have just eaten. The Centre Director, Amelia Titus, gave a brief resume of the activities carried out after which the floor was opened for discussions. The children below five of years of age coughed the whole time I was there and most of them have swollen stomachs, are weak and tired, slow in walking, have swollen bellies, thin arms and legs, lack energy, dozed non-stop and were finally laid down on reed mats to sleep. They looked clean though.
I was gravely concerned about supplies until I found out that UMCOR is aware of the orphanage and sends resources (financial) quarterly through the UMW leadership. During the site tour, I found bags of powdered milk labeled FINIDA, rice etc. They also grow their own vegetables, cassava, rear chickens and pigs, grow fruits (grapefruits and oranges which were in season at the time of my visit). I learned that malaria is also rampant among the orphans, which also contributes to the general ill health with slowing of growth. I tried to find out about the health intervention available but did not get a satisfactory nor convincing answer. They however admitted that the funding was erratic and they are more needy children than they can cater for.
I did not dare ask about the feeding arrangements but I am sufficiently concerned to make the following Recommendation: Women's Division should think about attaching a missionary nurse/nutritionist to the project and UMCOR should include generic medication and assorted vitamin tablets in their package to the orphanage because anything worth doing is worth doing well.
by Dr. Catherine MUDIME AKALE
Regional Missionary: Women's Division, GBGM
Since this report, the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage has moved to newly constructed quarters at Cambine Mission Station. Their food needs are met by the Cambine agriculture project.
Children receive care, love at United Methodist orphanage
By Kathy L. Gilbert*