For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
Upon his shoulder dominion rests. Isaiah 9:6
Dear Friends and Supporters of St. Nicholaus Children`s Center,
We are celebrating the first Sunday of Advent as I am writing this letter. Tonight we will light the first candle on the Advent wreath. The Advent Calendar is filled with 22 pieces of hard candy – one piece for each child for every day until December 24th.
A year ago our family had 18 children, now we have grown to 22 children. Maria, our oldest child turned 18. But due to her severe physical and mental disabilities she will continue to live with us until we have found another suitable home for disabled adults for her.
On Friday, December 5th the schools are closing with a big end of the year celebration. That same day our children are brushing their shoes and will line them up in front of their bedrooms so that our patron saint St. Nicholas can fill them at night. This tradition is observed in many European countries. During their school holidays many children will go home to be with their families. It is important that the children stay connected with their families. But not every child at St. Nicholaus still has extended family. Therefore, our house never closes. We expect all the children to return in time for Christmas.
Of course the children only receive the Sacraments with the consent of their families and we invite their family members for the celebrations. In January Agnes and Edina will start preschool, the other school children will all move up one grade. All our other children who because of their delayed evelopments and various disabilities are not able to attend the local schools are attending our so called Outpatient Clinic“. At this place, two caregivers together with the help of our volunteers are teaching the children according to their abilities. This (unofficial) special school program began in 2012 and has developed greatly. In February of 2014, Mama Tito started a special class with seven disabled children. In October, Mama Lydia has joined her and we have started to include our six youngest children (ages 3-5) in the program.
In my last general letter from September I wrote about David and Safura. By now David is three and a half months old and lives with his disabled mother and disabled brother in the village. He is growing and developing well. It is amazing to see how well his disabled mother is able to care for her two children.
Also Safura who came to us in September is doing very well. When she first came, she could only walk using a walking aid. Thanks to daily exercises she is now walking more and more on her own. She has adjusted well and she is very popular and well liked by the other kids. As soon as a child is crying, Safura is there to comfort her or him. Thank you so much for your faithful support. Without you there would be no St. Nicholaus Children`s Center because we get no financial support from the Tanzanian government. But most of all I like to ask you for your prayers for our children.
We wish you and your families a blessed Advent Season, a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015!
Stefanie Köster and the children and caregivers of St. Nicholaus Children`s Center