When I first arrived to the orphanage just a few weeks ago, the first thing I noticed was how much their situation had changed. Last year in December, they had just recently moved into their new homes – there were four small houses with approximately 20 children per house. Today there are 5 houses and a sixth is being built. There are also more House Mothers, but there are also more children.
The water situation last year was dire. The children would go to the river in the morning and load jerry cans of water for the day. Now they have a truck outfitted with a device that pumps the water into a vat and hosed into a tank behind their home. From the tank, the water moves through hoses into each house. There is enough water for taps to run and toilets to flush, but the truck has to make four trips per day to keep up with the needs of the orphanage..
The children overall appear more healthy then they were a year ago, but still the babies have stubborn colds and fevers. They are so vulnerable, and four died this year due to illness. However, most are thriving.
One of the new babies is Brenda, two months old. She came when she was two weeks old and weighing just two pounds. Today, she is still so incredibly tiny – the size of an average newborn. Baby Charles is another new arrival. His parents died of AIDS and he is HIV positive. Another toddler, Samwel, arrived just two weeks before I got there. His parents had attempted to sell him to a witch doctor for sacrifice, but the doctor turned the child over to police. They are in jail and Samwel is now at the orphanage, likely to stay for many years to come.
One of the most obvious signs of change is children playing. When the children first moved into this home a little over a year ago, there was so much work to be done and little time for playing. Today, with so much progress having been made, the children are finished their chores by noon and playing in the afternoon. (Right now they are on school holidays.) The local Rotary Club donated a playground, and the kids flock to it. Sometimes the boys like to make their own “band,” marching up and down the walkway singing and drumming.
I have more blogs to post in the coming days! I had an incredible stay at the orphanage, and I am excited to share these updates with you.