Well, last week when we were in Addis, we were able to visit the orphanage I had written about (10/28/10). And, yes, it was very, very sad.
In the toddler room, there were at least a dozen kids. They were so sweet... All I could think is that they deserved to be in a family, not living in a big room full of beds and kids. Only a few, though, wanted to be held and tried to get our attention. Most kids that age want to be held, but I think they were not accustomed to being carried around and loved on. The nannies reallly do the best they can, but there are so many chores that must be done just to keep things in working order (everything is hand-washed - clothes, sheets, diapers, dishes - and keeping things tidy and clean takes a lot of time with that many kids to care for) that there is no time left for snuggling.
We next visited the baby room. A room about 12x12 with 5 beds and about 13 babies. The babies were lying on blankets on the wood bed bottoms. The mattresses that had recently been purchased by the other group when they were there were not on the beds because they had been taken outside to be cleaned. They are wrapped in plastic so they will not be ruined, but they have to be cleaned often since there are no good diapers. The babies were still wearing onesies that were holding their make-shift diapers on, but with no plastic pants to cover the diapers everything just leaked onto their clothes and beds.
The room was a kind of dark, there was a bit of crying but not a lot, and multiple babies in every bed. One bed had 5 tiny babies in it. Their feet were all cold because they did not have socks or blankets on. We picked up some of the babies to hold, and every single one had on wet clothes. Their make-shift diapers were almost useless. We had just brought in several bags and containers of diapers, wipes, sheets, clothes, etc. so we 4 moms went into "mom mode" and started asking if we could change the babies and dress them in dry clothes that we brought with us. We went to the office, grabbed bags of disposable diapers, wipes, and dry clothes so we could start cleaning and changing babies.
As we changed, cleaned, and dressed babies, the nannies started bringing in the freshly-cleaned mattresses. Several of the babies were too small even for the newborn sized diapers and clothes that we had brought. We were able to put new crib sheets on mattresses, and place the clean, dry babies back into the soft beds. (We tried to explain to the nannies how to use the plastic-backed crib mattress protectors that we brought, but I'm not sure they understood. Hopefully, they will soon - it would really lessen their work load.) We put socks on tiny, cold feet, and we held and hugged and loved on as many babies as possible until we had to go. We wished we could stay and rock them to sleep, realizing that many of them had possibly never been rocked to sleep in their lives.
Try to imagine all the craziness of four moms in full-on "mom mode" and a couple of nannies in this tiny room with all these babies as we were trying to make sure every last one was clean and dry before we had to leave. It was cramped, loud, bustling, and a picture of the love of Christ in action. The nannies were so grateful for the things we had brought and for our help. They just kept saying, "Bless you... bless you."
We also were able to take $200 cash donated through the blog so the orphanage could purchase other supplies needed. And another family brought $150. (Our agency office in Addis has possession of the money and will be working with the orphanage to use it most wisely in purchasing items needed.) It's true that $350 can buy a good bit of stuff, but with so many babies and toddlers, it won't last long. Just think about how fast one baby goes through diapers and how much laundry they make. Multiply that by 25 to 30 babies and toddlers - whew! that's a lot of work and money.
We took several packs of disposable diapers, which would last a while with only a baby or two, but I am sure they probably only lasted a few days with that many babies. When we go back (hopfully in December), we want to take a bunch of cloth diapers and plastic pants with us. At least, they can be washed and reused many times.
It was an amazingly painful and eye-opening experience for all of us. We will never be the same...
(We pray we will be able to take our four bio kids with us when we go next time. It will be truly life-changing for them as well.)
If you would like to make a donation for supplies for us to take on our December trip, please see the October 28th post and donate through PayPal "Donate" button.