Smiles all round

K. Ela

These stories of HOPE help us to realize how much love there is in the world, and how easily we can share it….This short true life story is from a magazine called, MY WEEKLY.( Dec Issue2005). Reading through this story, it warmed my heart to know there are dedicated people like this old lady Mother Tanaka, bringing smiles and hope to children through the support of HOPE for children UK. Today in Nagaland as we struggle to come to terms with the pain that  HIV/AIDS is leaving behind, and the fear for the future for these innocent little ones, one wonders, how many Mother Tanakas do we in our society  to bring those happy smiles on the little children’s faces ?I believe we have them in our midst as well who are working silently and sincerely in their humble little homes, Will we have many of them? Or will there be none? Will our little orphaned children get reasons to smile? Will our little children dare to dream and will somebody be there to make their dreams come true?  The depth of love and concern in the human heart and little deeds of kindness is the only solace that one can take refuge in, and dare to smile again in spite of losing one’s near and dear ones. We need many Mother Tanakas and many other HOPE giving foundations. Let us pray and hope on this CHILDREN’S DAY that love comes easy from our hearts to embrace them. And as one looks forward to CHRISTMAS this year, let our Christmas spirit keep them warm and safe from the cold world outside.

Rupiwa Maluleke, 15, was taken into the Mother Tanaka Orphanage Home in Bulawayo following her mother’s death from AIDS.

When my mother died in 2005, I wanted to lie by her side and die with her. She was diagnosed with HIV in 1996. she never hid her illness and struggled to bring openness into our community. She encouraged other women with HIV to come together to share their stress, share their struggle, their desperation and poverty and to fight AIDS. “It is the only way forward for us all,’ she said.
“Despite her illness, she had great strength and beauty. ‘You will be a mother yourself one day,’ she told me. ‘Stay strong for your children.’ It was so hard to stay strong when she left this world even though her suffering had ended.

“But even in her illness she had looked after me. When she died, my aunt took me to the Mother Tanaka Orphanage Home. My mum knew about the home when she was alive and had arranged for me to have a place there. I had wanted to stay with my aunt, I begged her to take me in, but she had seven children of her own and no room in her home and no money. ‘You will be well cared for,’ she told me. ‘Don’t worry.’

“She was right. I am happy in the orphanage. Mother Tanaka looks after eighteen children like me, all AIDS orphans. We all live together in a small home with a tin roof. We all help each other. Mother Tanaka is a very special person. She works so hard cooking, cleaning, and loving us all. We all share the chores. We all look out for each other.

“You are all my children,’ she says and we are thankful we have her and each other.

“We are also thankful that we have the HOPE for Children Charity in the UK supporting the Orphanage. They give the orphanage a small grant for food, our education and repairs to the home. Thanks to HOPE we all go to school and we all have a chance in life.

“Sometimes HOPE send us blankets knitted by very kind people in England and they send us clothes. Last Christmas ten big boxes arrived, full of gifts and toys. I had never been given a gift at Christmas before. We were all so happy!

“Mother Tanaka tells us that although it is the blankets that keep us warm at night, what keeps her truly warm is that other people, a long way from my orphanage in Bulawayo are helping us have a better life. That means so much to all of us.

“There was a time, when my mum died, I didn’t know how I would survive on my own. The orphanage has helped me gain my strength and purpose. HOPE has given me the hope I needed in life.

“I am going to be a health worker one day. I want to teach young people about AIDS and HIV and help my community. I also want to be a mother. Mother Tanaka says all of my dreams are possible.”