Birthday: November 27
When we first saw Jeremia, he was sitting in the dirt outside the Kilimanjaro Regional Welfare Office, wearing footsie pajamas that were several sizes too small for him. He was not wearing a diaper and his clothing was soiled. It appeared he had not been changed or bathed for at least a week. He wanted desperately to be picked up and held.
Jeremia and his half-sister, Pendo, had been brought to the Welfare office by their mother who was on her way to the hospital because she was HIV positive and very ill. Her husband had died and she had no family to take care of her children.
No one knew Jeremia’s age for certain, but we guessed that he was at least three years old. Yet his actions seemed more like those of a one year old. He was not potty trained, he could not talk, he did not know how to eat using utensils, and by his behavior we could tell there were some brain development problems. He appeared to be a child who had been greatly neglected, one who had not been nurtured in the most basic areas of his young life.
Jeremia soaked in the loving attention he received from the staff at Treasures of Africa as if making up for years of lack. Yet he was soon to suffer one more blow to his already crushed spirit. A few months after their arrival at TOA, his half-sister Pendo, was taken in by relatives of her dead father, but they refused to take him because Jeremia had a different father and they felt no responsibility for him. He watched with bewilderment as strangers drove out of the orphanage gates with his only sibling.
The TOA staff was sensitive to his loss and surrounded Jeremia with love and encouragement. Day by day we began to see changes. One of the biggest improvements has been in the area of his speech. First he started out speaking a few words that he would repeat over and over. We would cheer him on with those simple words and he’d laugh with joy over our encouragement. Slowly but surely, as the months passed, bigger changes and greater improvement in his speech occurred until he was speaking in full sentences.
We placed Jeremia in our in-house Preschool program and he began to learn. Though it took some years of hard work, Jeremia got to the point where he was ready to be enrolled in school and he currently attends a Private English Medium Primary School and is doing well. He loves playing soccer with the other children at TOA and has become a truly joyful and very loving 10 year old. Looking back, we can honestly say the Jeremia we know today is a different child than the one we brought home to TOA seven years ago - and that would not be exaggerating one bit!