As promised we returned to the orphanage on Sunday with the donations raised so far from some kind-hearted Aussies. Last Sunday we took an Indian man with us to ensure we could find our way and properly communicate our intentions, however this Sunday we went alone. Initially the visit proved a little difficult as the workers speak Punjabi, the states local language and very limited English. The volunteer staff had changed shift and the new workers who we didn’t meet last week were unsure of who we were and again unsure of our intentions. Nevertheless the volunteers were extremely grateful for the donations and immediately sent an older child off to the market to buy food and other necessities for the babies. After some time the tension settled and the volunteer workers could see that we just wanted to help. Our duties thus far seem to be limited to feeding the babies and playing with the toddlers and children but we hope with time they will gain more trust in us and see us not as guests but as two people who simply want to help in way. Apparently drop-in volunteers are pretty much unheard of!
By using some serious body-language and without the girls understanding a word of English we were able to set up a very large game of duck-duck-goose. For a while the laughter and delightful squeals of the girls almost made me forget I was in the middle of an orphanage but the call to attention to resume studies was a sharp reality check. Every moment of the girls’ life is structured. It is essential to maintain the efficient running of so many children and sadly (or perhaps thankfully) the majority of the children don’t know any different. You may be thinking that the girls are fortunate because they are in the orphanage and not being used and abused on the street, and I would have to agree. However, these girls are in no other way fortunate although upon meeting them you can see that despite their situation they are happy and content. Why this situation is so heartbreaking is because these innocent little girls do not know that a better life exists and the hard truth is, they will never know. Most girls stay in the orphanage for life and become volunteers unless they can be married off. In such a complex and still highly illiterate country with narrow-minded traditions still dominating, marriage is also unlikely. Adoption is extremely improbable as the process is long and bureaucratic which only adds to their heartbreaking situation.
Although the staff at the orphanage do an amazing job in caring for and loving these children it is heart-wrenching to watch these girls who think it is normal to share a bed with four or five others and be fed out of used plastic bags and buckets like pigs in a pen. It is painful to think that such young children are burdened with the worry of whether there will be enough food to go around, whether there will be enough warm clothes to be shared and whether there will be enough room if another child comes. It is horrible that these girls will not be given the same opportunities as other children and it is frustrating that the world is so cruel. There is very limited opportunity for the girls and their childhood is short-lived. Even the toddlers of one and two are completely independent. I watched on in amazement and sadness as a toddler crawled up and out of her cot to retrieve a potty and after finishing her business promptly cleaned and replaced it. While realistically the girls’ long-term situation is likely to remain the same in terms of staying orphans, Brent and I hope that through volunteering and raising money we can make the situation a little brighter and the conditions of living a little easier. We are currently working on putting together a little moviemaker clip to circulate around schools, university, churches and workplaces but it will be completely based on word of mouth and current relationships with these groups. It’s a big ask but our goal is to make enough money to significantly help in building a new home to accommodate the growing number of orphans. If we don’t at least try we certainly won’t get anywhere. In the interim, smaller donations are being directly handed over to the girls to ease the burden of buying enough food and baby formula.
Again, thank you to those who have so kindly donated. If you are reading this blog and would like to donate please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to pass this information on to those who you think might like to contribute.
|Is this not one of the cutest faces you have seen?|
|One of the workers jumps in the cot to make feeding the toddlers easier|
|Washing up after lunch|
|So may cuddles|
|The girls just adore Brent|
|A shy but cheeky grin|