A few weeks ago I told you about my day in Finetown. I left something- well, someone- out of that post.
Let me introduce you to a woman with a heart bigger than her smile; a woman with enough compassion to fill an ocean; a woman making a huge difference in her community. Mama Florinah lives in a sheet metal shack in Finetown. Her eyes, surrounded by wrinkles from thousands of smiles, read people deeply. Her mouth is quick to tell stories. Her hands are big and confident; her fingers bent with age.
Mama Florinah’s shack has two main rooms. The main room is the kitchen/living room/bedroom. On the inside of the house, you can see the grooves of the metal between wooden beams. The door doesn’t close properly so the frigid wind engulfs the shack, waging war against the one space heater. Her bed is neatly made and is home to several stuffed animals. She’ll tell you about plans to expand her shack; she even has bricks in the front yard waiting to be built into a bigger house. Those bricks have been sitting in her yard for years.
On her property are two other buildings. Both in better condition than her house. One is a smaller building with a few windows and a door. It sits just to the left of her house. The second looks like a trailer; longer and narrow.
Mama Florinah provides a home for 16 orphans. 6 girls sleep in her bed with her because she does not have any other room. 10 boys live in the smaller building on her property. There aren’t enough beds, so they have to share. Mama Florinah takes in those who are unwanted; forgotten. She clothes, feeds, puts to sleep, nurses in sickness, and loves on children who have no where else to go. She literally and figuratively opens her home to them.
Additionally, a few days a week, Mama Florinah’s becomes a soup kitchen for needy children in the area. She provides a meal after school for 40-80 children. The long, narrow building on her property is a soup kitchen. It is smaller than most kitchens in America having only a few pots and pans.
In the back of that building is an office with a few book shelves. The office is a little bigger than a janitor’s closet. Dozens of pictures are on the walls of women in uniforms taken all around Finetown. The smiling faces in the pictures don’t tell you the hardship these people face everyday. They show the inexplicable joy that comes from loving your neighbor. These pictures are of caregivers: volunteers who visit HIV/AIDS patients in Finetown and provide in-home care. The caregivers meet at Mama Florinah’s every morning before their rounds for devotions.
One woman personifying the Good Samaritan parable. One woman pouring into children, young adults, and the dying. One woman making a difference in her community. One woman impacting a nation the best way she can. She doesn’t make money in any of these endeavors but she gives everything she has for her people.
Meet Mama Florinah (she’s all the way on the left)!