New Bern woman taking hundreds of scarves, supplies to community in Africa

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) -- Hundreds of children in Africa are orphans, many turned out by their families because of infection. One woman from New Bern is heading to Africa to help those children and their caregivers.

"Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa," explains Marla Webb with Partners in Action. "It's about 85 percent the size of New Jersey and it's almost completely surrounded by the country of South Africa. The population is a little over a million and unfortunately the death rate is higher than the birthrate so it's the only third world country where the population is decreasing."

Marla Webb of New Bern is on a mission that is taking her to a small country in desperate need of help.

"The women and children in Bulembu are the ones that we're going to be visiting," says Webb. "I have a team of 9 including myself. Women with different skills and abilities and experiences that are going to bring those gifts to the people who are there."

In the mountains of Bulembu, 400 orphans are waiting. The children have been abandoned by their parents for differing reasons but now find themselves in the care of the group Partners in Action. There are some special care givers too called "Aunties".

"They are the principal care giver for 5 to 7 orphans in each of those cottages," say Webb.

These women, often children themselves, are in this position because they were turned out by their families.

"Aunties are women who have had a very unfortunate past in many cases," says Webb.

Some have been raped, many have HIV, like a large number of the children they care for. As an Auntie, they are highly regarded.

"Women who wouldn't have their own families now have families," says Webb. "Women who might not have a safe home now have a safe home."

With the help of Eastern North Carolina, Webb is bringing nearly 200 scarves to the aunties as tokens of appreciation.

"Those colorful scarves then go to the aunties who regard them as a very treasured gift," explains Webb.

The Scarves not scars represent new life for these women that are now dedicating themselves to the forgotten children of Bulembu.

Webb leaves for her trip on Saturday, August 20, and will be in Africa for two weeks. She says the collection of scarves would not have been possible without the entire Eastern North Carolina community. To learn how you can help, click here.

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