The heart of a mother.

Catherine and a child from Our Lady of Joyful orphanage.

Catherine Rosborough is either one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met, or completely out of her mind. Whatever the diagnosis, this suburban Atlanta mother of seven (3 of them adopted) and her incredibly easy-going and supportive husband Robbie Allen are having a gigantic impact on the lives of orphaned children in the Congo through her fledgling organization: One Small Step.

Catherine with daughters Nicole & Joceline.

It was while Catherine was in The Democratic Republic of Congo in August, 2009 adopting her two teenaged daughters Nicole and Joceline– orphans fending for themselves on the streets of Kinshasa–that she was introduced to Father Prosper and Sister Petronille of Our Lady of Joyful Orphanage. Catherine visited the humble facility located next to a trash heap and was amazed to find it clean, well-equipped with running water, showers and toilets, and the children happy, well-loved and, yes, joyful. Yet they literally had nothing. “I thought I’d seen poverty before, but this was on a whole different level,” Catherine says as she remembers 42 children being fed with 2 fish. Sister Petronille sat with Catherine for hours talking about the challenges of running the home and begged her, not for food or money, but for funds to send the children to school.

Chris Kalonji--schoolbound!

Catherine promised to go back to Atlanta and see what she could cook up. The result was One Small Step, founded in January 2010. Thanks to the eager responsiveness of a small but generous circle of friends, Catherine was able to raise enough money to pay back rent, provide health care to some of the small children with malaria, and sponsor 19 children’s education for a full year. And every quarter since then, Catherine, her husband, or an advocate has traveled back to the Congo to check on the children’s progress, assess new needs, and bring essential school supplies, uniforms, computers and toys to the children of Joyful.

Hopeful, happy, and well-loved.

To understand the small miracle this represents, you need to understand something about the Congo. Quite simply, this country is the most dangerous place on the planet to be a woman or a girl – not to mention an orphan. Since 1998, a brutal civil war has been raging in which 5.4 million people have died, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of orphans. Rape and sexual violence is endemic, and children are an easy target. These are stories you can hear any day on the news – but it’s only people like Catherine who are crazy enough, and loving enough, to actually do something about it.

Catherine's kids: Maggie, Rose, Shaun, Nicole, Gresham, Gabrielle (Joceline not shown)

Quite frankly, I don’t know how anybody manages to juggle a household of 7 children aged 16, 14, 13, 11, 5, 5, and 3… particularly when one is a special needs child from China and two are traumatized teenagers from the Congo. That would pretty much put me over the edge. But to start a nonprofit and be so deeply committed to helping an entire orphanage of children in the Congo on top of that? Well, like I said, Catherine Rosborough is a very special person.

I’m so happy to be donating $100 today to One Small Step and Catherine’s gigantic heart! To join me, click here!

4 thoughts on “The heart of a mother.

  1. I enjoyed your post. In the picture entitled “Hopeful, Happy, and Well-loved”, our son, Christophe is the little boy in the light blue shirt and the top righthand side of the picture.

  2. Another heartwarming story on an individual making a huge difference in the lives of others! Kudos to Catherine and the folks who run Our Lady of Joyful Orphanage.

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