Most of you know that I have had a “daughter” living with me for the last year or so named Nyarai. I met Nyarai during my first trip to Zimbabwe in 1998 when she was 5 years old.
God has taught me so much throughout my relationship with Nyarai, so it is only fitting that as she begins college this week, I share the end of her story at Fairfield Children’s Home.
I am sure, however, that this is just the beginning of many other stories as she begins her life as an adult.
(I have been given permission from Nyarai to share this information with you)
Nyarai was brought to Fairfield when she was just a few months old by her great-grandmother. She had always been told that there were no other living relatives and that by now her great-grandmother would have passed away. We often told her that although she may not have blood relatives, she had so many people who loved her and accepted her as family.
She would never be left alone. But still, Nyarai said that before she left Fairfield, she wanted to see her home area for herself and know without doubt that there were no relatives left.
So two weeks ago, four of us set out to find Nyarai’s home area: Mr. Mufute (administrator), Mrs. Mabvumbe (assistant administrator), me and Nyarai. The only clue we had from her file was the name of a school near where the great-grandmother lived about 40 minutes away from Fairfield. We stopped at a house near the school and asked if anyone knew of a family from long ago with Nyarai’s last name. God was on our side, because the family knew exactly where we should go and even sent a girl with us to guide us. Five minutes later we were sitting in a kitchen hut greeting a woman with very kind eyes. She listened to our story and we asked if she had any information for us about the great-grandmother or her relatives. She smiled and said, “The woman you are speaking of passed away 10 years ago. I am married to her son. We knew of a baby girl named Manyara who came here with her mother before the mother passed away.”
Our administrator said to the woman, as others now began to enter the hut, “This is Manyara , your daughter. We have raised her and now we have brought her home.”
The women came over to where Nyarai (a nickname for Manyara) was sitting on the floor and hugged her and welcomed her into the family.
Then a little old man was called and stepped slowly into the hut using a cane. This was one of Nyarai’s great uncles. He also accepted her into the family and they all thanked Fairfield for raising her so well. When I went to snap a photo of Nyarai and her uncle, we noticed they had the exact same nose! She has 2 great uncles, a great aunt and many cousins. Before we left, Nyarai was given a chicken to take home as a welcome gift. She hopes to go back for a visit soon.
One week later, she received her high school exam results…she had passed 8 subjects! After 3 days of looking for the right place for her to continue studies, she finally decided on a Fashion Design course in town. She moved into the dorms there and has started classes, but is only a 15 minute drive away when we want to visit.
My house feels very empty and quiet these days. I remember walking her to preschool down the long dirt path. I remember showing her the swing set and new houses being built for Fairfield when she was 9 years old. I remember the day she blew out the candles on her 12th birthday cake and how she used to hum the tune to “Dawson’s Creek” that we watched so often together. I don’t suppose she remembers all those things, but hopefully on these first nights away from home, she will remember that she is well loved always.
Pictures from top: Nyarai trying on a pair of shoes at preschool in 1998, Nyarai on far left receiving her first Bible in 2002, me and Nyarai in 2005, Nyarai ready for high school 2007, meeting her family in January 2011 with Mr. Mufute, college dorm with Mrs. Mabvumbe in February 2011, My cousin Tiffany and me with Nyarai on my back in 1998