The History of Mozambique Orphanage Fund
Mozambique Orphanage Fund (MOF) was formed when several interested churches and individuals gathered in 2009. Originally organized as a donor advised fund within the United Methodist Frontier Foundation, MOF began with a board of directors composed of members from across the country including Flower Mound (TX), New Milford (CT), Platte Woods (MO), and Sedalia (MO). MOF committed to increase fundraising and coordination of projects at the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage. As a result, the goal of sharing the love of Jesus Christ to orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique began to come to fruition. After some years of transitioning leadership, in 2014, MOF reorganized and gained IRS approval as a 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity. In 2019, MOF hired it’s first employee, Sarah Bollinger. Sarah serves as the Executive Director.
Carolyn Belshe Orphanage
Mozambique gained its freedom from Portugal at the end of the War of Independence in 1975, only to be plunged into civil war from 1975 through 1992. These long and brutal wars resulted in many deaths and created untold number of orphans and homeless children.
In 1990, a United Methodist missionary, Carolyn Belshe, who worked as an Administrator at a Rural Hospital in Mozambique, began what would later become the Mozambique Orphanage Fund. The Mozambican Bishop asked her to start an orphanage for the many children who were victims of the wars. She found a former leper colony in an extremely rural area and brought about 6-8 children there. This was the start of the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage in Mozambique.
In 1999 and again in 2002 members of New Milford United Methodist Church (NMUMC) in Connecticut visited the orphanage and came back determined to raise funds. They desired to build a new orphanage at a location that would allow access to church, schools and social opportunities for the children. The United Methodist Mission Station of Cambine, which contained a church, schools, a clinic, and an agriculture program existed 25 miles away from CBO’s primary location. Due to the immense amount of centralized resources, it became the ideal location for the new orphanage.
By 2005, NMUMC raised the funds, completed the buildings, and moved the then 30 children from the leper colony to the new orphanage in Cambine. Kay Jones, one of our current Board Members, was one of 6 volunteer in missions from NMUMC that went to Cambine in August 2005 for the dedication. During the dedication, the Methodist Church officially named it Carolyn Belshe Orphanage (CBO).
From 1990 to 2008, churches from three United Methodist Church Conferences in the US – including New York, Missouri, and Texas – sent volunteer in missions teams to raise funds for the orphanage.
Today there are approximately 60 orphans at CBO at any point in time.
Dondo is a suburb of Beira, which is the third largest city in Mozambique. It is on the main East-West highway leading to the Port of Beira, a major seaport receiving and shipping goods and raw materials from inland Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. As a result, trucks are rolling through Dondo 24 hours a day/365 days a year. Metropolitan Beira has the highest rate of HIV+ individuals in all of Mozambique in large part because of this heavy traffic. The incidence of orphan children is also very high for this reason.
As far back as 2004, the United Methodist Church in Mozambique had plans to build an orphanage to provide food and shelter to many of these children. For the past 8 years, the local church has operated a feeding program to provide shelf-stable food on a weekly basis. During a mission trip to visit Carolyn Belshe (CBO) in Cambine, Mozambique in 2014, two of our Board Members had the opportunity to meet with the United Methodist Bishop, Joaquina Nhanala, to discuss a variety of topics. She raised concerns about the needs of the orphans of Dondo. She asked if MOF would be willing to look into the possibility of helping fund this project.
In 2015, five MOF Board Members visited Dondo and met with the church leaders for that area. The team learned that the plans to build an orphanage went back to 2004. The desire was to have an orphanage in Dondo to help alleviate the great need. MOF does not build orphanages, but we do interact with other organizations that provide funds for construction in support of the care for orphans and vulnerable children. Foundation for Orphans (F4O) is one such organization, and upon hearing of this need they began the planning process for supporting the construction of an orphanage in Dondo. In 2016, funds were raised and construction began in 2017.
The new orphanage at Dondo opened in 2018, and MOF is a major funder of the ongoing operating expenses of the orphanage.