This week has been simply amazing, but hard. We were able to get into both the children’s hospital and the orphanage sooner than expected, which made us super happy. It has been so much fun traveling and seeing this beautiful country, and I will definitely be doing more over the rest of this summer, but it has been nice to kind of start going in to a schedule!
On Wednesday morning we went to the orphanage. It was a lot harder for me than I expected it to be. We went around to each of the rooms in the orphanage as a group (there are 5) to meet the kids and get a feel for the rooms. We also visited two satellite apartments (these are where kids go to prepare for foster care). Seeing some of these kids was really difficult just because of the state they are in. A lot of them are much smaller than they should be, and some of them have little bodies that are so deformed. They have flat heads from lying in cribs and their legs are bent in odd directions. Yet, when you talk to these kids and ruffle their hair, they smile like they are the happiest kids in the world. I love them. Some of the kids were playing outside when we visited their rooms, so we went outside to meet them. When we walked outside, they all ran to us with their arms out reached. They were all screaming and excited, they loved us instantly. It broke my heart to see all of these precious children and the situation they are in.
On Thursday, we paired up and spent 30 minutes in each room to kind of get a feel for where we want to work for the rest of the summer. I loved the kids in each room, but there are some rooms that I think I would have a really hard time in. As of right now, I will be working in one of the satellite apartments in the mornings, and the hospital and clinic in the afternoons. I am a little conflicted though because yesterday, I worked in one of the orphanage rooms because we can’t start in the apartments until next week. I loved the kids in this room so. dang. much. This room has fairly normal developing babies and toddlers who are in wheelchairs. They had such strong spirits and were so happy and so sweet, and I would be so happy to be working with them this summer. I am excited to see how the apartment goes on Monday though, because I am sure I will love those kids just as much.
The hospital. I LOVE the hospital. Actually the conditions there make me really sad. It is very rudimentary and there are so often a lot of kids (the most I’ve seen is 6) packed in to tiny rooms. The moms lie on the small beds with their children and stay with them every day. There is no food at the hospital so parents have to bring their own to feed their kids. There are 8 floors in the hospital, with 2 wings on each one. We go to each one and ask the nurses if there are any children without moms. If there are, they take us to them and we will change their diapers, massage them, play with them, and just spend time with them for a little while. My current favorite baby is in the ICU, and when she is gone from the hospital I am going to be really sad. Looking at her, you would think she should be in an incubator but she is just in an old crib with a feeding tube and oxygen mask, which is pretty much the size of her face and she does not like it at all. She is about the length of my forearm and weights maybe 4 pounds, and I love her so much. She is adorable and I have no idea when she was born or if she even has a name, but she is so special – all the kids I have been with in that hospital are.
The hospital is super hot inside. They may open windows, but they usually don’t because if they do they have to close the door, and they believe the cross breeze (what they call curent) and air conditioning can make you sick. All the babies wear at least 2 layers, hats, and are covered in a blanket, so when we get to them they are wet with sweat. I cannot imagine feeling like that all the time. I am dying just being in my scrubs for 3 hours. I love being in the hospital because I feel like I am really needed there. Although I feel needed in the orphanage too (a ton of workers there have quit lately), there are workers to take care of the kids. At the hospital, the orphan or abandoned children have no one but the nurses, who seem to do pretty much the bare minimum of feeding and changing diapers. They get very little, if any, of the human touch and contact that is so necessary for development. For just a little while, I get to provide that kind of care to them and that is so special to me.
Today Shellie, Rachel and I went and people watched on the Palas lawn. Palas is a new and really nice area that was just built behind my apartment. It has a huge and super nice mall, outdoor bars, fountains, the cultural palace and a huge lush green lawn. It is kind of the hang outplace, and there are always a ton of people playing and hanging out there. It is kind of interesting to see the contrast between my front yard and my back yard.
Here are a few pics of my backyard –
We saw so many interesting things, from a wedding party taking pictures to what looked like the tail end of a dance battle that had been going on (that was really interesting). There is a carousel there, here are some gypsy kids that wanted to ride it. Not too long after this picture they were shooed out of Palas by security. There is a lot of racism against gypsies here.
In light of mother’s day, I have been thinking about this experience and how grateful I am for my parents and for everything they have done to guide me, teach me, and provide for me. I am so grateful for my mom and everything she has done for me over the two decades. She is so strong and such a great example to me and I love her so much. I only wish that all these children I have met so far had been blessed with a mom as great as mine. I love you mom!