If any you snoop around on our Facebook pages (shout out to Katie), you may have seen some photos of the cuties we spend our time with. The orphanage is close to where we live…correction, we walk about a mile each way in the hot African sun, but it’s a relative term. The orphanage is for babies aged newborn to three years old. It’s run by an American woman and is a well run and great facility. We’ll definitely do some more posts talking about what we do there, but we wanted to first tell you about how it runs. There are two main buildings, and there are currently 32 kids that are separated into four groups.
The nursery has seven tiny babies and is for the youngest of the bunch. Once they can crawl, they move up to the appropriately named “crawlers” group where there are currently another 7 babies. These babies are now fed nut porridge along its their bottles, and start to have a more set sleeping and eating schedule.
Once these little ones start to take a few steps (or turn 12 months old), they move into the “wobblers” group. This group gets two scheduled maps a day, and three meals a day fed to them, plus two snacks they feed to themselves. We spend a lot of our time with this group, helping to feed them and entertain them.
The next group if called the “toddlers,” and the “wobblers” can move up once they are sufficiently walking. These kids feed themselves, are starting to talk, and a couple are currently being potty trained. The toddlers have one nap per day, and have the special privilege of walking to the playground every morning. Right now there are nine wobblers and nine toddlers.
Technically not all the kids here are orphans because many of them will go back to their parents or extended family once they are older and don’t need as much intense care. Most of these kids are brought here because the family that will care for them can’t afford to do so properly, or can’t take the responsibility of a baby. However, some of the kids are abandoned or orphaned, and will hopefully be adopted from this baby home, but if not, will graduate on to another orphanage once they are three years old.
One boy at the orphanage is special needs, and two of them have HIV. We were actually surprised to find out that only two have HIV, as we expected more. The baby home has qualified medical staff and stays on top of their medications and doctor check-ups so they can stay happy and healthy!
The baby home also employs lots of local women who are assigned to be nannies of certain age groups. The nannies are with the kids 24/7 (although they of course come in shifts) and are really their primary care givers. Volunteers and visitors come every day to play with the kids and give them extra attention. There are also a couple cooks who prepare the babies meals, and other staff that serve as guards, grounds keepers, etc. Besides looking after the kids with HIV, the medical staff cares for the kids with your common cold (which there never seems to be a shortage of), keeps tabs on their ages and weights, and any other care that they might need if they are sick.
-Gretchen & Jane