God's calling for me to come on this trip was through children! I wanted to spend everyday at the orphanages. Today was the day to go to the one I wanted to visit most. My training is in special education. I was eager to play -therapeutically- with some dark skinned, dark eyed darlins'!
My "preschool whisper" friend Fay was also armed and ready! We brought balloons, beach balls and bubbles! Oh, yeah we brought rag dolls, blankies, and stuffed cars that a lady of our church made and toothbrushes and paste that another sent. I took a picture of my suitcase filled with goodies but did not bring my computer so pictures will have to wait until the states.
Most folks are unsure in such a setting. The kids look different and their medical needs can be intimidating. I was eager to get on the floor and play! Some of them had shaved heads probably due to lice. The center was very clean, the workers were kind and loving and seemed very dedicated to their jobs. They had to be! That center is now their life.
I played with younger children who were laying on a large floor mat. They made eye contact with us. Just like our B. and neighbor Eliza did when they were babies, they mouthed "Hi" when I said hi to them.
One little guy gave me a huge smile but another child did not. The smiler pulled his loose arm (probably due to Cerebral Palsy) up to my face to touch my cheek. I held his hand there and talked while he smiled. Whatever I did for one baby, I did for the other but the response was not the same. I tried balloons, Fay blew bubbles but this little darlin' just stared at me. I clicked my tongue and she watched. After several times, I saw her pull her tongue to the front of her mouth and I celebrated her attempt.
The little boy had pulled his hand up to my face again so I put my check against his and made a kissing sound. I am a sucker for a smile so that continued. I switched sides of his little face and wondered if he would anticipate where I would go next. He did not. He did like the bubbles and raised his arm to swing at them. Yeah for fun therapy!
The little girl was once again staring at me. I tried the check with kissing sounds and got a smile-HOME RUN!! Now, I continued for some time.
There was another little guy flopping on the mat attempting to get the bubbles. He reminded me of Anthoney, a child with CP that I taught in KY. Anthoney (yes, that is the correct spelling) gave me a run for my money but I LOVED that kid! I got permission to hold him and attempted to support his body while he reached for bubbles. He fought so hard, he pulled himself to a standing position although his little spaghetti legs could not support him. He was passionate about getting the bubbles! I laughed as he whapped my glasses off of my face! I think Anthoney did the same thing back in the day!
Chelsia, a team member, made friends with a tiny 11-year-old girl. She was in a wheelchair but hand the fine motor skills to use the wedding size bubbles. Sam had brought some hair clips and this little darlin' was putting them all through Chelsia's hair. This little girl will age out in one year. These children are not available for adoption. Many times, families return to get them. otherwise, I do not know what happens to them at 12. This little girl seemed only to be physically impaired. She feed another child, corrected one of our volunteers and stole our hearts. In the states, she would be in a general education classroom earning a diploma. I was ready to interrupt the birth order at my house and bring her home but I think I would have to fight Chelsia for her.
The workers were patient with us and we had to leave for nap time. I loved watching our ladies nurture these little ones. Of course I see them do it at church as well! We were able to meet with the workers and share why we were there. We loved on these young women a bit and gave them money for diapers, milk and food just what they said they needed.
The team left their hearts there and we stood outside with teary eyes just breathing and looking at one another. He is the Father to the fatherless.