An truly life changing story...
In Feb 2005 dreams reached across continents to birth an exciting project, which through amazing circumstances, resulted in four horses arriving at the Iris children center in Pem-ba, Mozambique - as a gift.
The belief was that a present such as a horse could have a deep impact on lives in ways never imagined - even on a life with a devastating past.
The founder of 'Kingdom Horse' Ingela Larsson has a longing in her heart to be part of changing the lives of the poor.
A children's home in Mozambique, one of the poorest countries of today, had particularly been on her heart. During that time, a successful business and her much loved horses de-manded her full attention, getting personally involved with orphans in another country seemed impossible without giving up everything at home.
On another continent, the founders of this very same children's home had been dreaming of bringing horses in to be part of the daily routine of the children as they seek to re-establish love into their broken lives.
Heidi and Rolland Baker of Iris Ministries have been instrumental in housing thousands of orphaned, abandoned and abused children. Two hundred of the most emotionally dam-aged children live with them in Pemba.
On a beautiful day in the Caribbean Sea, through a divinely orchestrated meeting, Ingela and the Baker's bumped into one another and two visions became one.
In England Kingdom Horse founded the charity 'Horses for Mozambique' as an opportu-nity for others to get involved in reaching out to the children of Mozambique.
Through natural horsemanship, the 'Horses for Mozambique' Project sought to increase rehabilitation and provide children with the opportunity to grow and develop mentally and emotionally through the pure, truthful relationship horses offer.
To fulfill this challenging project and see the dream become reality - more than human effort and determination was needed. God had to intervene with miracles every step of the way.
After traveling to Pemba and building the required facilities, time was spent training an Iris Missionary in Horsemanship to lead the project once established. Meanwhile back in the UK, a search began for a second full time horse-person with the intention of then training indigenous people to maintain this project.
The initial team went to Pemba as a ground crew, to survey the land and to build the fa-cilities that would be needed to keep the horses.
It was a long process as the only tools they had available consisted of a small roll of twine, a measuring tape and a Swiss Army knife. Ingela, Madlene and Heather went straight to work along with a team of Mozambique men who were being asked to build something bigger, better and straighter than most things in Mozambique-- for an animal they had never seen. With 120 degrees of extreme heat and an extensive language barrier, much hard work was to follow. After digging seventy holes, two feet deep and adding tied together bamboo poles to 10 foot tall round posts, the construction began to resemble something of a round pen, surrounded by a paddock.
What came as a surprise for the team was that Heidi's wish for the children was to get a horse to the center for Christmas. After 10 months of being unsuccessful in finding a single horse to buy or import, they now had less than three weeks to accomplish some-thing that seemed to be impossible. The decision was made to find a way to build a horse trailer, in faith that this mysterious animal would soon appear somewhere and need to be transported. Frank, a local Pemba man, originally from South Africa, determined he could help went to work straight away, welding steel pipes together to form a frame on top of one of Iris's four ton, people-carrying trucks.
As construction continued, and daily obstacles were overcome, the search for a horse continued. Phone calls, meetings and trips to strange places to all but beg for someone to sell their horse, produced nothing. There was nothing else to do but to keep praying.
On one particular day as the team was especially discouraged, a miracle happened. One of the first boys the Bakers had rescued some 12 years ago, discerned the teams low morale and so to encourage them, he sang a prophetic song over them. "God will provide a horse..." Only moments after he put his guitar down, a phone call came through to say that some-one was willing to lend them a horse. God had heard from heaven.
Ben, a very gentle and loving chestnut gelding was about to embark on a very long and interesting cross-country journey.
Shortly after midnight in Pemba, the team had the newly finished trailer loaded and ready to go. A 10-hour drive over unimaginable roads was to follow. After arriving at the farm in Nampula, Ingela prepared Ben for a few hours to be able to load him into the trailer.
Horse loaded and back in the truck the team took on the arduous drive home, dodging huge holes in what was presumed to be the road. They arrived back at the base by 5 am with only one minor accident behind them.
The children came running to see the very thing they had been talking about for weeks-un cavallo - a horse! Or was it a very big dog? One of the children's first questions was "How much does that big dog eat?". There was a slight concern over the fact that Ben would not drink the different tasting water in Pemba, but the children prayed for him and he began drinking. Ben stayed with the children for over five weeks before returning back to his owner. It was an excellent trial run for the children to see exactly what life with a horse was all about.
In April 2006 the Kingdom Horse team flew to South Africa to search for and purchase four suitable horses for the children. Drawing on a previous casual conversation from the December before with Frank, they found the perfect solution. A Christian family, with three great kids who not only have heart for the poor but also are well experienced in breeding the Boerperd, a tough, hardy, and versatile indigenous African breed.
The Alberts were amazing. Not only did they welcome us into their home and helped us select the right horses, they even held a charity demonstration at their farm to help raise money for the project. In addition, Ben Alberts and his son willingly offered to make the treacherous 3,500 mile trip from South Africa all the way up through Mozambique to Pemba. The first hurdle was to get the horses across the border and after much prayer and discussions, the import papers were signed and the horses were able to go for 6 weeks into quarantine at Maputo.
In June, Ben Alberts, plus a mechanic friend and Ben's son, Christian, embarked on the journey of a life time. Thirty straight hours of driving on extremely poor roads (was it a road?) and three breakdowns along the way, made for a very exciting and tiring trip, but thanks to their endurance and several miracles, everyone arrived safely!
Ingela flew directly to Pemba to welcome the horses and make sure the transition went smoothly. She spent three weeks there and the children's new four-legged friends settled in very nicely. Ingela spend time working and giving instructions to the children and mis-sionaries that were responsible for the project. After a few days of ground work with the horses, the children were able to start riding.
The only thing missing now was an indigenous person to take an interest in the horses, a real interest that wouldn't fade away after the initial excitement. A young Mozambique man soon emerged. His name was Ado and he loved the horses from the moment he first set eyes on them. Being highly self-motivated and despite the language barrier, he quickly learned from the Kingdom Horse team how to care for the horses. It involved keeping their paddock clean, the fences in good order, grooming, feeding, making hay, foot trimming and vaccinating. Of course understanding how hors-es think, feel and see the world was a big part of Ado's training as well. Because of his big heart for the children, it was a natural step for him to share what he had learned and to demonstrate to them what he was learning about horsemanship.
Through building a relationship with the horse the children grew in confidence, improved their communication, team-work and leadership skills and now the horses have truly be-come a enriching part of their lives.
Miriam Kirk and Laura Hauser were the first two missionaries to run the horse project. Since the horses arrived, they have established a daily routine to look after and care for each of the four horses. They have a specific program for the children and are helping them increase their horsemanship skills. In addition, they themselves are walking their own journey with the horses.
December 2006 brought a 6-month mile marker for the horse's lives in Pemba. Ingela, Vicky and Heather travelled to Mozambique to see how things were progressing, checked on the health of the horses and gave further horsemanship instruction. The team was pleased with what they found, the horses looked fantastic!
Everyday the children came to interact with the horses and to have fun playing with them. Once everything was safe, the riding began.
Initially the team designed games involving all the children, with the older ones leading and everyone taking turns to ride. This began in walk, and as they grew in confidence, they had fun riding faster and faster. It was amazing to see how much their confidence grew in such a short time. Many children wanted to ride everyday, and the older ones, who were improving fast, wanted to ride for much longer and on their own. After the first week, some of the older ones progressed to riding around the base on their own in walk, trot and canter. It was so great to see them having such fun with smiles from ear to ear. The children were getting on so well with their riding that they were invited to take part in a Governmental grand parade in Pemba. By the end of the team's trip, the children had big grins on their faces and were galloping around on the horses, looking as if they had been riding all their lives.
We would like to thank everyone who has donated to this project in anyway. So many have poured money, equipment, time, thoughts, ideas and much more in to this project. You have helped us make the dream a reality for these children who now are the only children in Pemba, Mozambique to have horses.
Those of us who have horses in our lives know how fortunate we are to have them as our companions and the way in which they help us escape from the pressures of life. Imagine how much more these children cherish that opportunity to step away from their pasts and enjoy the great and simple joy of the uncomplicated relationship that horses offer.
After the project was successfully completed, Kingdom Horse continued to support the 'Horses for Mozambique' project by sending teams and resources for two more years after the horses first arrived, until Iris Ministries was able to operate and sustain the dream independently.
Help victims recovering from poverty, sickness, and abuse. Together we can make a difference.
'Horses for Mozambique' is part of the Torchbearers Trust, registered charity no. 1000113
The children at Iris love giving their equine friends handpicked grass through the fence. Even the little ones offer their muscle to pick up the round pen or help carry the drinking water. Some of the oldest children have been experiencing the newly found joy of play-ing with the horses but they all look forward excitedly to pony rides led by the missionar-ies.
Judah is one of the many children who have found a home at Iris Ministries in Pemba. However, he doesn't go to school with the other children and doesn't talk much or play with them either. He prefers sitting alone and watching the time pass. Judah also enjoys creating well-crafted toys out of the odds and ends he finds on the grounds. Some of the children have a hard time treating him like their other friends. They wonder why Judah is different. We wonder if Judah may have autistic tendencies.
Rarely would we see a smile on his face more than a flicker of social interaction in his eyes. He always seemed to be living in a far off, confused world. Then one day we asked God for a heaven sent breakthrough for him. As we prayed we saw a release take place and the obvious torment inside of him left. That was the day we changed his name to Ju-dah Israel. Now we enjoy seeing beautiful smiles spread across his face. He truly is a miracle.
There are two things that easily bring a smile to his face or a spontaneous giggle of de-light. One is kindly greeting him and planting a sincere kiss on his forehead, the other is a visit to the horses. Judah loves these strong and beautiful creatures that he has newly dis-covered, and shows little fear. We see that in spite of his limitations, he is a natural with the horses.
One hand is often curled up, so we put the carrot stick in his other hand and help him ma-neuver through the friendly game. Then he attempts to do it himself, and although a bit awkwardly, he demonstrates a surprisingly sensitive touch. The horse seems to sense his special needs and responds accordingly. The other day he simply lifted one hand, and Piet respectfully stopped advancing toward him.
Judah loves to sit outside the paddock and watch the horses or better yet, to be invited into the round pen to hang out with his new friends. This seems to be a place of refuge for him, and a place to let his cares take wings. The other day as he watched, he fell asleep; the perfect picture of peace and trust amidst the rustling motion of love, liberty and leadership.