‘Tis the season for giving, and I don’t know about you, but we sure don’t need anything this Christmas!  I know a number of you who share this sentiment, and I have been asked by several how they might be able to help Elizabeth’s former orphanage or Congolese orphans in general this Christmas season.  Well, since Christmas is only one small week away, I wanted to go ahead and address this.  In short, YES!  There are huge needs in Congo, and I know several amazing organizations that can immediately put your money right to work for vulnerable children in DRC.  So, for you last minute Christmas shoppers, follow along closely… because really- who needs another tie or ugly sweater anyway?

There are two organizations that were instrumental in our adoption of Elizabeth.  I cannot sing their praises enough.  Reeds of Hope (aka “Tumaini”) and Our Family in Africa (“OFA”) are not adoption agencies; rather, they are each dedicated to the ongoing tireless work of caring for orphans throughout DRC.  Their dedication to ethics is refreshing, and the work each organization is doing throughout Congo is literally changing and saving lives one by one.

Reeds of Hope works specifically with the orphanage in eastern Congo where Elizabeth spent the first 20 months of her life. This is where all of the pj’s, cloth diapers, undies, and toys that many of you sent have gone.  These were so very appreciated, and the needs go on from there!  Holly Mulford spells out the current needs at the orphanage on her blog post here.  Near and dear to my heart is Holly’s current commitment to hiring more “mamas” for the orphanage.  They simply do not have enough caregivers right now to ensure that babies are being held, engaged, and played with.  However, they desperately need donations to hire more mamas.  Not only would this help the health, development, and general well-being of these sweet kids- Elizabeth’s former peers- but it would also provide much needed jobs for women in this war-torn region of Congo.  There are so many other needs at this orphanage, so check out Holly’s post!  Any donations to Reeds of Hope can be made through Children’s HopeChest here.  Questions?  Ask me!  Or you can contact Holly personally through her blog.

Next up, Our Family in Africa.  OFA facilitated our adoption process, and I’m not sure enough words can express how much time and energy this volunteer-based organization poured into our adoption over these past six months.  The brains behind OFA is Jilma Meneses, and her passion for Congolese orphans simply cannot be contained.  It oozes into all she does, and I have yet to determine if Jilma ever rests.  OFA supports a number of orphanages throughout DRC, including the one where Elizabeth previously lived.  You can check out some of OFA’s current projects and needs here and here.  I was so blessed to see first-hand the work OFA is doing in one particular orphanage in Kinshasa and was moved by the loving, warm atmosphere there.  Whether it’s the provision of rice and beans for hungry little bellies or sending an orphan to school, the needs are plenty… and I can assure you that every penny donated will go to good use.

As many of you scramble to gather some last-minute Christmas gifts and consider personal year-end donations, I would urge you to consider these two organizations.  You have seen the pictures of Elizabeth’s sweet face, and you have read her story.  She is just one of many, many lives that have been changed through these organizations.  I don’t know a better way to celebrate Christmas this year!