Delivered: 250 Goody Bags

June 8th

smiling from his crib

There are two orphanages we work with in Beira. The first is the baby orphanage, where infants are left and are able to stay until age 7. From there, they are transitioned into the government orphanage, where they are placed in school and are able to stay until age 18. This system is currently under review.

pick me up, take me home

The baby orphanage is privately funded and has many families who drop off their little ones during the week and then pick them up during the weekend. I am not sure why this occurs, but I can guess it has something to do with the fact that the children are very well cared for in the orphanage and unemployment in Moz is currently at about 85%. Families are really struggling to just get by, and having one less mouth to feed during the week makes life a bit easier.

as cute as Moz orphans come

The baby orphanage is right by the ocean and is a beautiful facility. The children are well cared for and while there aren’t enough hands to hold them all, these kids are receiving great care in comparison to what their lives would be like in the rural villages without regular meals. Nonetheless, there are 80-plus kids in one facility with about a dozen workers. Laundry is always piled high. There are always noses and bottoms that need wiping, hungry mouths, crying eyes and laughter. It is a cacophony of craziness, especially because the children have become accustomed to foreigners showing up occasionally. They immediately greeted us at the fence by climbing all over us, playing with our cameras, stroking our hair, holding our hands and clinging to our limbs. It was amazing, wonderful and heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave. I truly wish I could have taken them all home with me.

just right

I think the greatest day of my life will be when I go into one of these facilities and come out with a child of my own. One day.

bag delivered

After dropping off the 100 knit baby caps Kathy created, we headed off to the the older orphanage, where the goody bags were headed. (The luggage arrived in the meantime.) ASEM, the older child orphanage, is “phasing out” orphans. I couldn’t get to the bottom of this, but essentially the government is trying furiously to place children with extended families and get them out of the orphanages. I’m not sure what the motivation is, but I am certain that if it were that easy there never would have been a need for orphanages in the first place. Mozambicans get the importance of family and could teach a thing or two to other cultures about the importance of sharing and taking care of each other. Sending a family member to an orphanage is a disgrace and shame, not something any family in any country wants. It made me wince at the thought of these kids — who obviously cannot be cared for by extended family — being “returned,” as if they were frivolous purchases with a yellow Nordstrom sticker on their clothing.

the word is out and they came running

Regardless, when the orphanage director heard we’d brought gifts for the kids, he was thrilled. He helped us line up all the children (who came running in droves) and one by one, they each received a baggie.


They were thrilled! You could tell these were kids who may have never owned a single new item and they were jumping for joy when they received these. We were also able to give the director an additional 100 baggies to hold for children who have already been “reintegrated.”

mass hysteria
so happy with his gift
Cheering at getting his baggie
Anita and me, handing out baggies

Thank you again for your help with this project. The blogging response was met with equal enthusiasm by welcoming, curious hands in Mozambique. You’ve made an orphanage very, very happy and I know these children feel loved. For that, I am forever thankful.

another happy recipient
me with boy, handing out bags


Posted in
Africa, Journal, Public Health, Travel
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34 Responses

  1. Larissa June 8, 2007


    Thank you–the words are so small, but it’s the only way to express how big my heart feels. Thank you for sharing those photos with us and for helping our hands stretch all the way to Moz. It may not be changing the world, but it is changing the lives of some children, one at a time and that is so wonderful. Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to help you do your good work and for keeping us posted all along the way. You and the children were never far from my mind. I am sure you’d want to take them all home with you, I know I wish they could all be here with us at our house too. Your sentiments have really touched me and made me think more about my life and how truly blessed I am. Thank you for that too.

  2. Thank you. I have so much – I just wish everyone else could have what I have! I saw your request too late to participate, but I’ve been following your trip. The gift bags were a lovely idea; thank you for sharing the pictures.

  3. what beautiful little faces! i want to smoosh all they’re cheeks and love on them all!! (I’m loving the little one with her little toes poking out of her booties!) thank you again for letting the blog world be a part of your love for Moz.

    i’ve just shown my son these photos and he was so happy to see the kiddos enjoying goodie bags! he was proud of himself for bringing a smile to someone elses face.

  4. really enjoying your Moz stories. what a great effort the gift bags were.

  5. It just seems like an awesome experience. It would be so hard for me to leave those poor little orphans. I would want to take them all home with me, too.

    How do you stay strong?

  6. Jennifer June 8, 2007

    Good lord, girl, if I see any more of these darling faces, I’m going to melt into a puddle of saltwater. I don’t know what makes me happier (or weepier) – seeing their joy, or hearing about the important and vital work you are doing on behalf of our neighbors around the world. I so admire you and your energy in facing these health challenges head on … You are making such a difference and I’m so proud of you. πŸ™‚

  7. Oh my goodness…..I’m sure I don’t think anybody could read this with a dry eye.
    Thanks so much for sharing. I’m sure every single person who sent a goody bag is so thankful that they could participate.

  8. It just fell so good to see all those happy children! It’s a small thing we all have done, but those smiles are the biggest reward! Thank you for letting us help you a little.

  9. It’s so wonderful to see these pictures. Your blog’s taken us with you on what must have been an incredible roller coaster of emotions. I admire you so much and I’m so grateful to you for sharing your with us. You are a uniquely special person

  10. Such a simple gesture, yet such a big impact.

    Thank you.

  11. So wonderful!!!

  12. Thanks for sharing your photos and stories. There can’t be enough lights shined on Africa and her needs these days. Thanks for being one of them.

  13. Really heartwarming. I’m so happy that you were able to do this.

  14. You’re doing wonderful work, Kelli!

  15. Oh Kelli, I have tears in my eyes. It is so heartwarming to see these kids enjoy those bags so much. YOu do amazing work!

  16. Dang Kel, I’m crying AGAIN over these baggies. It was hard enough helping you open the boxes that people sent, but seeing how happy those kids are… There really are some wonderful people out there in the world. And you’re one of the best… I love you!

  17. so nice to see the happy little faces.
    imagine a little zip loc bag with some items could make them smile. wonderful.
    i have a question on the dental floss we put in the bags, were they shown how to use it?
    you look happy too kelli.

  18. o kelli! that breaks and warms my heart at the same time. your generosity of spirit astounds me. and i’m not sure how you could have left that orpjanage. must have been hard. what beautiful children!

  19. A disgrace or a shame to put a child in an orphange! If they have that mindset then they are over halfway there to changing the system to foster care! I wish the same could be said for Ukraine!

    Thanks for these photos and sharing what you do! I know how hard it is to walk in these home and then come back out empty handed and processing the emotions of it! Keep up the good work sharing about these little one’s lives. Every single one of them is important!

  20. Aw, they are so healthy and happy looking! What great orphanage! I’ve seen so many pictures of orphanages where there are no smiles, and the children are so dirty. This one looks beautiful! It looks like there are a couple of much older kids in those pictures too…wow. There lives are so different from ours, I can’t get over it. I really want to participate in the world and help others throughout my life!

  21. Kelli like everyone else I couldnt help but shed a tear at these photos, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful work that you do.

  22. This makes me cry–I cry for the joy of being able to help in some teeny-tiny way; I cry for there having to be any reason at all for children in Mozambique or anywhere else having to be placed in orphanages. I hope your dream of being able to take home your very own child comes true soon.

  23. I was just looking at your flickr photos and they are so beautiful and so upsetting. What you are doing is so important, so immediate and necessary. Thank you so much for bringing this dose of stark reality home.

  24. Thank you Kellie,

    It’s wonderful to see the smiles on the children’s faces. It was a lot of fun for me preparing the little goodie bags and now to see this.. It was so simple for me to do yet, it seems to have brought such joy!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

  25. Oh, Kelli,

    I hope you can come home one day with your child. So many, many children the world over need help. I thank you that we were all able to join in and help a little with the bags. My next set is almost ready to ship to you. Hope you are feeling ever so much better.

  26. I love these photos! I am so glad to see the smiling faces, and it is heartwarming to know that so many people got together and made this happen. YOU are amazing for thinking of the idea, and I hope you know that I admire you. So glad to have “met” you through blogging, you truly are inspiring.

    Hope you are feeling better now that you are home!

  27. I have been absolutely enthralled with your posts from Africa. I am so amazed by the work you are doing and so sad for these children’s plight but I feel really lucky to be able to make a very small contribution. Those smiles are so touching.

  28. well, now i’m sitting at my desk ready to start the day in a puddle of tears! so heartwarming & heartbreaking at the same time.

  29. So glad they enjoyed the goodie bags. Glad you are home safe. We missed you!

  30. Wow – ditto on the tears factor. Thanks, Kelli for giving us a way to help out. It means a lot…to us, to them…..

    It was great to see the pictures too. ! πŸ™‚

  31. It is amazing to see these beautiful childrens’ faces, that are so happy with so little. I think a lot of American children could learn from these children.

  32. Great pics! it must have been a very humbling experience to hand them out. I imagine the love and joy felt palpable. well done.

  33. wow! what an amazing experience for you – probably more so for you than the children. life changing, i imagine. your photos are fantastic and a joy to behold. thank you for sharing on-line. πŸ™‚