Still, Ebane’s joy filled the entire room as she spoke fondly about the children as they smiled and watched on. When asked if she remembers all of the kids’ names, Ebane jubilantly responded, “Of course I remember all of their names; they’re my kids!”
Shortly after, Moore and I dragged the belongings we had packed in to her bedroom so she could take stock of what we had. We then handpicked the toys we wanted to distribute and joined the children in the main room.
While some were initially shy, the children sprung into action as only healthy, vibrant youth can do. The older kids enjoyed my explanation of a story book about an African-American slave who found his freedom, and the smallest member of the orphanage, 3-year-old Fabrice (pictured), showed off Moore’s personal gift: funky green sunglasses. But the big hit of the evening was a puzzle I had brought from my son. About 7 to 8 children — mainly boys — took to the puzzle with fervor, trying to figure out their newest conundrum.
By the time we decided to leave, the children had completed the puzzle!
When I asked Ebane about whether she has had any kids grow out of the orphanage, she responded, “One of my kids finished university. She’s married. She’s in Bamenda and they are doing fine. And another, she did hairdressing in a salon. She’s doing fine. They are big. They are both in their 20s; they can take care of themselves.”
After asking whether the two young women ever come to visit, Ebane said, “Yeah, they come, at times they send some things for the small kids.”
And the time I spent with Ebane and the children brought tears to my eyes; for, as much as I tried to anticipate what the orphanage would be like, I wasn’t prepared for the heroism displayed by a Mary Sume Ebane, matron of Grace of God Philanthropic Orphanage.
If you would like to help support Ebane’s efforts at the orphanage, you can do so here.
See pictures from Mary Ebane’s God Philanthropic Orphanage below: