Sunday, July 13, 2014

Orphanage Month: Random Pieces of the Orphanage System

-We classify the orphanages we know by two factors: 

One factor is the provision going to the children in the orphanage.  All orphanages here have great needs, but it is clear that the needs of some children are being met in some orphanages more than in other orphanages.

The other factor is the quality of care. Children at some orphanages are supervised and being raised under higher standards than others.

-Donations go out the back door in some orphanages, sold by the staff instead of being given to the children for which they were intended.  In some places it is hard to give unless we place the donation directly into the child’s hands or place it on the child’s body. 

-Children learn what behaviors get them results; thus some orphanages have the most unruly children that behave like animals whenever visitors arrive, in an attempt to receive as much as possible. The loudest gets the most. 

-Orphanages are often full of disease.  Imagine one hundred children sharing a bathroom with no toilet paper, toilet seats, soap, or towels.  Fungus, hair loss, malnutrition, colds and flus, athlete’s foot, and lice are all more than common.  Aside from the questionable behavior mentioned above (and "questionable" is a generous term here), disease issues always left me wondering if I was being a good parent by having my own little one at the orphanage.  Upon returning home after a visit, the first thing we always did was bathe.  Thoroughly. Everything in the wash.  The orphanage bag was relegated to the floor of the same closet, and was washed weekly.  Even in lovingly run places, an orphanage is a dirty space.

-Most orphanages have a couple of staff members exhaustively working for a hundred children, or have a large number of staff that never leave the break room.  Either way, the result is often anarchy: children raising children.

-We have seen children talking to or playing with the following in place of toys:  a door, a wooden bench, a brick, a metal rod, a seed, a shirt named Alice, a paint chip named Henry, and a tree called Isador.

-It is a tricky thing to decide which orphanage we should help more.  An orphanage of high quality care that provides loving guidance and good facilities to its orphans. Or an orphanage that provides terrible care for children and thus has needier children desperate for any drop of food or love.  Which would you choose?  We never quite decided, but found ourselves torn between the two.  Our methods of giving became very different, dependent upon what orphanage we were visiting.