India Howell fell in love with Tanzania after climbing its famed Mt. Kilimanjaro. This American woman then made a life for herself there that led to new lives for 94 children who now call her "mom." It's an extraordinary story Bill Whitaker finds amid Africa's breathtakingly beautiful Rift Valley and reports on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, May 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Howell operates the Rift Valley Children's Village with her business partner, a local man she met named Peter Leon Mmassy. Though nearly all the children, toddler to 21, have lost one or both parents or been abandoned by them, it's never been called an orphanage. "My kids aren't orphans," says Howell. "They're not up for adoption. They have never been nor ever will be because they're home now."
Says Mmassy, "I am the legal guardian. India and I, we are two...legal guardians. So she is mom and I am dad."
Howell has brought some Western culture with her to the village, in which the children live in several houses, each with its own Tanzanian house mother. But the main mother is Howell. "They call me 'mama' and then when they've watched enough Disney movies, they start calling me 'mom.'"
The children get an education at a nearby school. They do chores and look out for one another, just like one big family. That's the way Howell see it --- one big, happy family.
"I don't think I was issued with the biological clock. As all of my friends began to get frantic and started to marry people they would later divorce just because they wanted to have kids, I couldn't understand that drive," she tells Whitaker. "And here I am with more children than I can count. And I can't imagine any other way."