When Susie Keefer went on a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010, she did not know that it would change her entire life. Five years later, her purpose is clear.
She fell in love with the children fed by the Mpasa Nutritional Program, and she knew she wanted to continue to visit and help in any way she could. In her second visit, she met a 2-year-old girl named Miriam.
“There was one little girl who wouldn’t leave my arms. If I left, she cried,” Keefer said. “Her name was Miriam. When I went back, she was waiting for me like I had never left.”
Eventually, when her life circumstances changed, Miriam was up for adoption. “My husband told me to take her home,” Keefer said.
Keefer continued to work with the Mpasa Nutritional Program until Miriam was able to travel back to the United States. But when a group of Congolese women sought her out in order to show her their starving children, Keefer was devastated. She knew she had to help.
Keefer started Miriam’s Table in 2014. Celebrating its fifth year Oct. 13, the nonprofit is striving to continue helping children of the Mpasa Region of Congo with food and medicine.
When the doors first opened, they planned to feed about 150 children. In 2019, they are feeding 350 children daily and have employed seven local people.
The nonprofit teams up with local Sussex County restaurants and sponsors for Dine Out With Miriam. Once a month, a local restaurant holds a night in which 15 percent of the profits go directly to Miriam’s Table.
Recently, Miriam’s Table teamed up with the Rehoboth Sunrise Rotary Club to drill a well in the Mpasa Region, helping provide clean water.
Miriam, now 10 years old, continues to be the shining light of the mission. The whole family travels back to the Congo often to help and support.
“I never went to the Congo to bring home a child, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be feeding children. It’s been amazing to have this daughter and still keep her connected with her home. When she goes, she becomes what she needs to be there,” Keefer said.
Five years into this journey, Keefer is still both shocked and enthusiastic.
Keefer said, “It’s been such an amazing journey. We’re excited to know that what we offer these children is health. We’re excited to continue and figure out what else we can do.”
At 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 20, a fundraiser and celebration for Miriam’s Table will be held at Bethel United Methodist Church, 129 W. Fourth St., Lewes. Those who wish to attend should RSVP at bethellewes.org or by calling the Bethel church office at 302-645-6496.
For more information on Miriam’s Table, go to miriamstable.org.