Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Nkoaranga orphanage

Hello everyone! This is Laura. I know some of you have asked that I write about the orphanage where I am working, so here it is.

The orphanage is called Nkoaranga, and it is part of a complex that includes a hospital and a school. There are 24 children at the orphanage from 3 months to 4 years old. When they turn 4 the kids are taken to a boarding school where they will attend primary and secondary. When the kids reach that stage the foundation that runs the projects looks for sponsors to help pay for their education. When they complete secondary school they are returned to the nearest relative they can find. They kids are fairly well taken care of, they have clothes and foods, and a few toys to play with. The clothes are all donated and quite old, most of them have holes. The food is abundant but not very nutritious, mostly rice, beans and porridge (milk and corn?). Once or twice I have seen them eat pasta, and some vegetables, but that is the exception.

As I volunteer I have taken the afternoon shift, there are other volunteers from different organizations that go there in the morning. My job when I get there is to get them out of bed, since they nap from noon to 2, and change them. That is quite the challenge because they still use cloth diapers. The orphanage does not have wipes or baby powder, so most of the volunteers have brought some of these items to use. After waking them and changing them it is play time! The older ones entertain themselves fairly well, but the 1 and 2 year olds want nothing but for you to hold them. There is always someone crying, either because another kid hit them, or because nobody is paying attention. We try to split our time so all the kids get some loving. Around 4 pm they bring out dinner. We usually sit three or four kids in front of us and feed them all at once. The little babies require a bottle, so that takes a little bit more time. The 4 year olds feed themselves. One of the funniest things is that they have a TV with a video player and their favorite movie is, bar none!, the Lion King! They refer to it as Hakuna Matata! which is funny, because all these kids speak swahili so that is the only sentence they understand of the whole movie.

After dinner is more play time. They go to bed around 6:30.

A few of the kids are really sick, with pnemonia or malaria. One of them, Baraka, has totally stolen my heart and the poor little guys is in and out of the hospital with problems. Another child, Hussein, has a problem with his legs, he is 2 and still doesn't walk. We have arranged for him to go to physical therapy. In one of the pictures you can see him strapped to a board learning to walk. This kid is the happiest kid ever, though. Always smiling and laughing.

By now the kids already know me, and are very happy to see us. The sad part is when we leave, since most of them cry. The other sad part is only being a part of their lives for such a short time, you have to imagine that they get attached to the volunteers and then we leave. There is always new people coming and going, so that is hard.

Jeremy also has a new post right below.




10 comments:

Anonymous said...

reading your blog is really interesting. The more you read the more you want to know and learn about those lands and people. This is really a great experience and I wish a could go to africa too one day.
Children are easy to love and these ones will be also very hard to leave. I guess you'll like to take all of them with you!
Yr mum is Ok. Now she is having fun at spoiling her little nephews ALice and Marco.
Love
Lorena

Anonymous said...

Laura,

How could you not lose your heart to all of them? Are you holding Baraka, and what medical complications is he dealing with?
What an experience for both you and Jeremy! I have totally enjoyed following you during your adventure. Enjoy your last safari and visit to the island.
Jeremy, yesterday your dad came to UVM with Greg to watch my AAU be successful once again at a tournament. We had a great time.
Love Ya,
Laurie

Greg said...

Laura ....
Thanks a bunch for all the details and photos in your post.

Orphans are indeed heart wrenching.
Greg

Gary said...

Laura,

Thanks so much for posting the story about the orphanage. Sounds like you might need to extend your stay because it will be too difficult to say good-bye to the kids. I didn’t know you were so kind and caring and compassionate. I didn’t see any of that when we worked together. :-)

I’ve been enjoying following your and Jeremy’s travels. Keep up the good work!

Hakuna Matata!

Gary

Gary said...

Laura,

Thanks so much for posting the story about the orphanage. Sounds like you might need to extend your stay because it will be too difficult to say good-bye to the kids. I didn’t know you were so kind and caring and compassionate. I didn’t see any of that when we worked together. :-)

I’ve been enjoying following your and Jeremy’s travels. Keep up the good work!

Hakuna Matata!

Gary

Laura said...

Hi Gary! I happy to hear from you. I read your email about DC a while ago. I hope everything is going well in Aurora. We are getting sad that our days in Africa are numbered!

Anonymous said...

Jeremy & Laura,

It has been great reading the blog...definitely some interesting adventures.

Could you guys find out how we can donate clothing and supplies to the orphanage Laura is working with? Amy and I would love to donate some items...really hard to hear about the struggles those children are going through when you have a little one in your own home.

Enjoy the final volunteering days and the safari...Jeremy see if you can wrestle a lion...now that would make for a story!!!

j carrara said...

great pics! Thanks a lot.

amy said...

Hi,
I just came across your blog. I was at NKoaranga in June of 07 and again in December. Huseini is walking! Running, actually. His legs have completely straightened out and I couldn't believe the difference 6 months made! Baraka is unfortunately not doing well. He was diagnosed with leukemia in late July. He had another blood transfusion this week, but it's not helping. Wasn't he just the most cuddly guy over the summer? Such a sweet boy. You can check out my pictures from December on my blog, if you'd like. I enjoyed looking at your's!
Amy
amynafrica.blogspot.com

STAVROS said...

ADVICE REQUESTED:

Hi Laura,
I came across this blog doing Google search. Words are not enough to describe what you have been doing for people...
Within a few weeks I am traveling to Zanzibar for holidays.
I would need your advice on the following:
1) I intend to visit the Orphanage in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and bring some goods for the kids (small toys, radios, stationary, also wipes, powder, first-aid kits, tooth-brushes etc.).
Would you have any practical suggestions for processing? Should I contact someone beforehand? Would I expect any formalities? Could I give the toys directly to the children? Will they benefit immediately or is there a risk of things ending in a storage, or elsewhere?
2) Is the Orphanage where you volunteered, the "State" Orphanage of Stone Town? Do you know approximately how many kids it hosts? Any contact details?

Many thanks in advance and warmest wishes
Stavros