For eight months in 2002 to 2003 my family lived on the ELWA campus. During that time God opened the door for me to teach school at a nearby orphanage. Our house was just 20 minutes walking distance to the Susie Guenter Orphanage (also known as the Jahz Jet Outreach Center, located on the main road to the airport).
(Most of the staff from the orphanage and school,
back in 2002.)
Jefferson and Helena Zeon, who established and run the orphanage, are wonderful Christian people. Jefferson grew up with some of our Baptist Mid Missions missionaries (Abe and Susie Guenter). Jefferson is one of our Baptist pastors and in addition to running a great orphanage, he has established other ministries in various parts of Liberia.
(Jahz Jet/Susie Guenter Orphanage in September of 2002)
During the year I taught school I got to know Jefferson and his family quite well. They are doing such an amazing job at their orphanage. They are also honest and reliable. Unlike some orphanages in Liberia, they actually use their (small) government subsidy to care for the children. In addition to this, they are sponsored by the Baptist Children's Home in the US. (When they received money for a new roof, there was a new roof on the orphanage. When they got money for new beds, beautiful new beds were set up in the bedrooms.)
For part of my summer (2005) internship in college I taught a Bible study on Godly living for the older girls at the Susie Gunter orphanage.
During this time I met a pathetic little girl who was very sick. The Zeon's had tried their best to meet her needs, but at the time had nearly 100 kids, and with the extent of her problems, Mary was just too much for them to handle. I talked to my parents about bringing this child home for about 2 weeks so we could address some of her illnesses. Jefferson was delighted as they had been worried about Mary. Mary had been abandoned on the street and had been placed at the Jahz Jet orphanage. She had been there a year when I found her, and had already improved considerably since then (thanks to Jefferson's dedication). We brought Mary home…and our lives were changed forever.
After treating Mary's many illnesses, we could analyze herbetter. We had no idea how old she was, but she was tiny, with a mouth full of permanent teeth. She couldn’t talk and was mentally handicapped. She just blossomed in our care and we truly grew to love her. We wondered if we should adopt Mary, but knew her handicaps were something that we could not address in Liberia. We didn't know what to do. During a missionary potluck we met Patty Anglin, who assured us she could find a home for Mary. And Patty did. My family and the Zeons were delighted when Mary, after 8 months in our home, went home to her new family in Canada (a family who specializes in adopting special needs kids). Later through a bone-age scan it was determined that Mary was 11 years old - the same age as my sister Heidi!!
Mary was my parent's first foster child and while she was still with us Patty brought us another foster child: a 2-month-old baby boy. From then on my family became foster parents for Acres of Hope, and through that, dear friends with Patty.
So the other day I decided to visit the Susie Guenter/Jahz Jet orphanage. I was so encouraged to see how well Jefferson is doing with the children in their care.
Their numbers are way down (down to the lower 30's) so they are able to focus more on each child individually. Because of this they were ready to take in a few special needs babies. Jefferson was so excited as he introduced me to little Hawa and Dominic, and told me how the Baptist Children's Homes director in the states had called him asking if they would be willing to add an abandoned special needs child to their orphanage.
(This is Hawa.)
(And this is Dominic.)
They said yes to the first one, and later the other was added. Those who have supported the Baptist Children's Home's Liberia ministry will be happy to know they are the ones supporting these two special children.
(Jefferson was also given extra funds from the BCH to set up things for these new special needs kids, like the shiny walker Dominic is sitting in). Right now since there are only two babies, they have one hired caretaker at a time. One lady cares for them in the day (the daytime hired caretaker is Helena's sister, pictured on the left), and in the evening another lady takes over (through the night). Jefferson also told me they have a nurse named Garmae who checks on the kids a few times a week, along with their daughter Jackie who is studying to be a Physicians Assistant. As you can see Hawa and Dominic are doing great here at the orphanage!
(Jefferson with Hawa)
Jefferson also told me about a little baby with hydrocephalus that was recently granted a medical visa to the states. He along with Pastor Peter Flomo, who is the head of the Abandoned Child Care Foundation (ACCF) for the Baptist Children's homes, were able to acquire the medical visa for little Nye (pronounced "Yah"). You can read about Nyelleneh on the Baptist Children's Home's website.
I am so proud of all Jefferson and his family have done and continue to do on behalf of the needy children of Liberia!