Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kenyan Orphans

Nicole: By Wednesday, I had been feeling sick for a few days and decided that it was time to go and see a doctor. Karis picked Melissa and I up from the house and took us to the Nairobi Hospital where blood tests were run for malaria, typhoid, and total blood count. All of the tests came back fine and it was determined that I just had a bad cold. But after my experiences with malaria and typhoid in Ghana, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any too serious. It is now Thursday and I have been taking the medicine prescribed to me and beginning to feel a bit better.

On Thursday, we slept in and called Karis a little before noon to take us to the Exhibition Center, a place where Nyambura told me that I could find some warm clothes to purchase. Imagine the Shopping District in Downtown Los Angeles. Now multiply that by like 100 and you get what we experienced. The place was so busy and crowded and there was absolutely no parking. We didn’t even end up getting out of the car as Melissa and I decided that this was a bit too much to handle. Karis was a bit nervous about having us in this area as well and rolled up our windows and locked the doors as he told us that all the people could see that we were white and therefore have a lot of money. Needless to say, this trip was unsuccessful.

We returned home and relaxed around the house for awhile before going to New Life Home. This home is located directly next door to where we are staying; hence we had driven past it many times. After driving past the sign for this home a few times, I finally really looked at it and understood that it was an orphanage. I asked Nyambura if she knew anything about this home and she told me that she had never gone in to visit but knew that lots of people who come here to adopt babies adopt them from New Life Home. I was very interested and decided on Thursday afternoon that it was time to go see what this home was all about.

Melissa and I walked over to the home and were warmly greeted by the staff in the reception office. We saw about 25 very young children playing outside with some foreigners as well as locals. The man at the front desk answered our questions as we were not 100% sure of what this home did and then called in someone else to give us a more detailed description and tour. This lady explained that the home has been operating for 15 years and they have adopted out over 1,000 babies. They take in babies who are between the ages of 1 day old and 3 months old. Many, but not all of these babies have a physical disability when they are born or are born HIV positive. We looked at pictures of some of the babies who were born prematurely, with bowed legs, and with other problems and got to see pictures of them after spending some time at the home and in the care of doctors. It was amazing to see how they saved these babies and gave them a second chance at life. It was also explained to us that many of the babies who are in the home are brought in by the police or are abandoned by their parents at the hospital after delivery. Once the child is brought to this home, the parent(s) must hand over all legal rights and custody to the organization. It is incredibly sad to think about this but so amazing that this home helps to stabilize the children and then adopts them out to good families who will take care of them.

After learning about the baby orphanage, we were taken on a tour of the premises. We first visited the area where the youngest babies live. These babies are between 1 day old and about 6 months old. When we were there, the youngest baby was 2 months old. We saw the nurseries which were adorably decorated, the play room, and the room where the babies are first kept and watched over when they arrive. We walked outside and saw many little babies in bouncers or being held and bottle fed by staff and volunteers. It was so heartbreaking to see about 20 babies that were so young and were abandoned by their parents.

We were shown the medical center and then walked over to the area where the ‘crawlers’ live. These children, about 15 in number are between the ages of 6 months old to a little over a year old. The children were not inside as they were outside playing so we just walked through and viewed the area. The common room had all sorts of toys, stuffed animals, and mats for the babies to play with. There were two nurseries, filled with cribs for each of the children. In addition, there were closets in each bedroom. These closets were filled with a variety of children’s clothing. I asked if most of the clothing comes in as donations and it was explained to me that not most of the clothing is donated, but rather, all of the clothing is donated.

Next, we visited the area where the oldest children at this home live. There is a smaller number of these children, the ‘toddlers’ – about 5 or 6 children who range between 1.5 years and 3 years old. These children have bigger cribs as it was explained to us that these children can walk and like to try to escape from their beds.

After viewing the rooms, we went outside where we got to play with the children. Immediately upon walking outside to the grassy area, a little boy came running to me and grabbed my legs. He told me that his name was Doug and that he was two years old. It was the most precious thing ever, especially because he had a huge grin on his face. Doug is one of the oldest children at the home and is currently attending school.

We spent some time with the children outside before we were instructed to start bringing the children inside. We carried the ‘crawlers’ upstairs to their common room. We were then each given a bowl of blended fruits and vegetables as well as a baby spoon and told that we should start feeding one of the babies. After feeding the babies their dinner, we gave them their bottles. Everything was going well until one of the babies that Melissa was feeding threw up the milk all over her. She was not too impressed. But luckily, since we are staying directly next door, she was able to return home and change. I stayed at the orphanage until the babies were put to bed around 6pm.

No comments: