Sunday, May 16, 2010

a very good day

I went up to the orphanage again yesterday with two good friends.  I think I'll let the pictures and their stories tell you about my day.  But first, I wanted to share a bit more about our training two weeks ago.  In addition to talking a long time about mixing formula correctly and feeding the babies, I talked about touch. I talked about the power of loving touch, how we need it as desperately as we need food.  Of course, there is more than just touch, there is the need to belong and to be known, but for so many of these kids, who won't be going home to families (and in the meantime for those who will be), they need to be touched and held and loved on.  So, I told them about how I love their culture because of how the mamas love on their babies, how they are carried around on their backs all day.  And I told them that they are the mamas of these kids now.  I have gone up there enough times to know that the babies and toddlers spend too much time untouched, laying in cribs, or forgotten on floors.  Part of the problem is that there weren't enough mamas and there was too much work to do.  (Now there are 5 mamas for 32 kids instead of two!) And part of it is just the simple fact that they aren't their kids and it is a job.  Thankfully, the mamas do love the kids, and do want to care for them well.  It was clear in our training two weeks ago.  I think they got the message that I was trying to teach, that I knew they already knew deep in their own hearts, and just needed reminding of: that if you aren't touched and shown love, you lose hope.  And when you lose hope you die a little each day and hide your heart away deep inside where it is safe, where you can't be hurt.  I have seen that in the eyes of the children there, and I knew that this message was perhaps even more important than the message of how to feed them correctly.  Yesterday I asked the wonderful mamas, why is it important to touch the babies and the children, and they said that through touching them they know they are not alone, they are loved, they are not forgotten, and when we hold them against us they hear our heartbeats and they grow strong.  It was a good day.

So, hear are some pictures.

This little girl, I've written about before.  She probably has broken my heart the most, for the empty look I have seen in her eyes, as if she has just checked out because it is all too painful.   I've really never seen her smile before and she is most often in her crib alone.  Her twin brother died at the orphanage 6 months ago.  She is about 16 months old.  She doesn't sit or roll.  She doesn't interact, and I've seen very few facial expressions.  She holds her arms and hands close to her body all the time.  Yesterday, my friend who came with us, held her for a lot of our visit.  And we both were about in tears, not only was she smiling, but she laughed!  Two big things have happened in her life in the last two weeks.  She is fed formula, which she desperately needs, and fed it often, which means she is held a lot.  And she is touched and loved.  It seems like a little thing, to see a child smile, but it isn't, it is an amazing thing, it is a miracle, it is a blessing, it is life giving and affirming. 

The above picture is from a 1 1/2 months ago.
I've written about this little guy too.  He is the skinniest and sickliest baby there.  He is about 10 months old, and every time I visit I am terrified because I half expect to hear that he has died.  He probably weighed 5 lbs when I first met him.  His name is Moise.  One thing I have learned about this little boy is that he has an indomitable spirit!  It is amazing to me that such a little body can house such a spirit.  Whenever I see him he is reaching out, those little hands reaching out to whoever comes his way.  Anyway, this is him yesterday.  Look back at some of my older posts and you will see why even now as I write this I am crying.  I hardly recognized him!  He actually has cheeks!!  He had been getting watered down powdered cow's milk with porridge three times a day up until two weeks ago!  Here he is about to fall asleep.  He sat in a mamas lap during the training and at one point all the mamas had to show me how good he looked (they were so proud) and he was smiling up a storm.  If that isn't a good day, I don't know what is!!

Isla is waking from her nap.  I will finish tonight, there is more!


Laura said...

What an honor!!! What amazing joy!!! Thank you, Jesus!!! said...

this is amazing! thank you for being a blessing to these babies, God is using you is mighty ways!!

Joel said...

Oh how exciting! Look what love and education can accomplish! (Shauna)