In 1991 Carolyn Beleshe, then serving as a United Methodist Church missionary under the General Board of Global Ministries, established an orphanage near the village of Teles using buildings from an abandoned leper’s colony: this was the only location the Methodist Church of Mozambique could provide.

PartnersThe new orphanage offered the church something new: a location in which to save the lives of numerous orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) that, because of the ongoing wars, were being given to the church.

But the location was not ideal. Concerns at Teles included these concerns:

  • Education. The children at Teles had no formal opportunities for school.
  • Isolation. The leper’s colony had been selected to be far from other villages so that the lepers could be kept separate from the general population for fear of the disease spreading. The children at Teles developed close bonds among themselves but were severely limited socially.
  • Malaria. The Teles orphanage was located near a swamp where malaria-infested mosquitos bred. The children were constantly sick from this crippling and sometimes fatal disease.
  • Health Care. The nearest health care facility was located approximately twenty miles away over sandy, dirt roads that are virtually impassible without a four-wheel drive vehicle. Emergency situation of life or death usually meant death.
  • Food. Being so far removed from other populations, the orphanage was neglected and frequently had no food or supplies for the children. Most infants received bottles of milk on a rotating, every other day basis. Food for the other children was severely limited, with children sometimes missing meals for days.
  • Potable water. The water at Teles untreated swamp water: need I say more?
  • Electricity. Several small solar panels, connected to batteries, offered the only electricity available at Teles. A sun-filled day would enable three light bulbs to be lit for 3 – 4 hours each night.
  • Spiritual. Although the orphanage was run by the women of the Mozambiquan Methodist Church, there was no church nearby.

In 2002 Wayne Lavender led a Volunteer in Mission (VIM) trip to Mozambique that visited the Teles Orphanage. Ensuing discussions with the orphanage director, district superintendent, women’s division coordinator and bishop led to the decision to move the children to a better location 30 miles away. Thus began a campaign to raise $85,000 to construct a new home for these children at the Methodist Missionary site of Cambine. Cambine offered all of the advantages Teles lacked, including access to schools, socialization, a health care clinic, food and potable water and a local church.

Today some 70 children live at the Carolyn Beleshe Orphanage (CBO), named in honor of Carolyn’s commitment to the least, the last and the lost. CBO offers its children the educational, emotional, physical and spiritual needs absent at Teles, including:

  • CBO is within walking distance of a church run pre-school and state run primary and secondary schools. Cambine is also home to a United Methodist Church seminary, where several of these children have trained to become ordained pastors.
  • CBO is now located in the midst of a larger community where the children are assimilated into the larger culture, interacting with other children in school, church, the market and the soccer pitch (CBO boasts a very successful soccer team!).
  • Moving away from the swampy area of Teles reduced the occurrence of malaria among the children: the threat of malaria has also been mitigated by the installation of mosquito nets in all of the children’s rooms.
  • A health clinic is less than .5 kilometers from the CBO.
  • With a higher visibility among visitors to Cambine and support from the Mozambique Orphanage Fund (and others), food shortages are rare at the CBO. Today children are thriving under a healthy diet.
  • A well produces ample, clean water for the residents of CBO as well as others in the community. Clean drinking water has dramatically reduced the water born diseases plaguing the children at Teles.
  • A/C power from the Mozambiquan grid provides reliable electricity to CBO 24 / 7.
  • CBO is located less than 1 kilometer from the Cambine United Methodist Church – providing the children with spiritual support and a church family.

Pictured below are some scenes from Cambine where the CBO is a model of how to provide community-based orphan care with great love and caring.