Woman Takes In 14 Tanzanian Children After Volunteering At African Orphanage
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A British woman has taken in 14 Tanzanian children she met while volunteering at an orphanage during a gap year.
Letty McMaster, 26, planned a month-long trip to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa when she was just 18 years old, little realising it would change her life forever.
She ended up staying on for three years to support the children she met and when the orphanage closed down Letty took in nine children who would have been left homeless.
Seven years on from when she first arrived, she is now legal guardian of the nine kids she originally took on, as well as five more kids she met on the streets or at a safe house she runs. How incredible is that?
Letty, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, said: "These children are my whole life, I raise them all on my own and they keep me going through the long hours of juggling everything.
"I'd always had in mind that I wanted to help street children so my family and friends weren't surprised but I never expected to end up doing all this.
"I am the parental figure in the house - some of the little boys who never had a parent view me as their mum but most see me more as a big sister as I'm not that much older than some of them.
"I'm just like any mum raising teenagers - I made a commitment to them and I just feel so blessed to have two families!"
Letty first flew out in 2013, planning to stay for a month before going home and starting university, but once she arrived she says she discovered the children in the orphanage were being physically and mentally abused by staff.
She claims staff pocketed cash donated by tourists for the children and the kids were sometimes only fed once a day.
She explained: "The abuse the children were going through in the orphanage was horrendous and I saw the impact that it had on the kids and knew immediately something had to change.
"I couldn't leave them in that situation so my new goal was to get them a family home."
The orphanage was closed down in 2016 and Letty fought for the right to open up her home for the nine kids left homeless.
She set up a charity called Street Children Iringa, and has since taken in another five children.
Since coming into her care, all the children have flourished.
Letty said: "Since having a place to call home, they have all excelled in education and in every aspect of their lives.
"Gosberth is one of the boys that I've looked after for the past seven years and is now studying at one of the top private schools in the country and is the number one pupil in his year.
"Eva is 19 and is chairperson of her year at university - she's doing so well and has got a volunteer internship with an international NGO.
"Obviously it takes time to settle into the house from street life and traumatic experiences and it can take a while to get them into family life, routine and leaving street behaviour behind.
"Razarlo is studying to become a tour guide at the national park whilst Plshon and Iddy have recorded music that is played on local radios.
"Seeing their drive, determination and success is what makes all the balancing that I have to do worth it."
You can find out more about Street Children Iringa, or donate, here.