The first time we met her was in May 2006 when we visited Moshi, a town in the Northern part of Tanzania. According to the Tanzanian tradition, she introduces herself to us as Mama Neema, because her first child was named Neema. Her “real” name is FlariaFelix Faraji. As she is now mama for many more children, she prefers to use the name Mama Faraji.
At our first meeting, she told us about her job as a primary school teacher and about her children at home. When she mentioned that she actually took care of 14 children in addition to her own children, we thought that couldn’t be possible. “Why not come and visit us at home?” she asked with a big smile. We had become curious, to us this woman seemed to be so friendly and interesting, and we accepted her invitation. That same afternoon two of the children, Helen and Felix, came to our hotel to pick us up. They didn’t say a lot, we guess they were not much used to speaking English to foreigners like us, but we understood that we should follow them. We followed them to a suburb of Moshi called Rau. And there she was, the school teacher we had met on our way to town the same morning. She welcomed us into her little house where she lived with her husband, father in law and 18 children. This was the start of our friendship ….
Mama Faraji told us about the children who were now in her care after having lost both or one of their parents or caretakers to fatal diseases. She had no support from the government, and people who promised to help her if she took care of the children, might bring a bag of rice, but then stopped. She was obviously distressed about the difficult situation she and the children were in. She never asked us for money,but we understood that our contribution could make a huge difference for her and the children. We decided that we wanted to help her in some or another way, and it was such a blessing to be able to help and make a difference there and then. On our return to Norway, we managed to collect and sendoff a load of children’s clothes we had got from the compassionate and generous owner of a clothing shop in Trondheim together with some we had bought ourselves.