It’s a strange situation, the one I’m in. I’m starting to get into the daily routine of being on my own, taking a boda boda each day to the “home” and spending the day with the children – getting to know them and trying to find things to do when there is really nothing around. I’m still frustrated (I have to buy even blank white paper for the kids because there is nothing to work with), but I’ve started making plans so maybe Christmas will be a little bit more festive and I’ll be a little bit less lonely when that time comes around. More frustrating is the nutrition and intellectual stimulation (or lack thereof) available to the kids. There has been some action recently, as a nurse came by and did HIV testing on the children and even had to pull a horrific and huge worm out of one boy’s leg. I tried to work with what was at the “home” the other day, but there was literally nothing to write/draw on except an old accounting book. I bought some papers and supplies at a supermarket so we proceeded by making an advent calendar with the story of Jesus’ birth told within the flaps (the children are, last I heard, ostensibly raised as Christians), and I found some face paint at the supermarket, which got a little crazy and regardless, I had to use my fingers because there were no brushes. So that (and not my totally absent artistic talent) is why it looks the way it does.
It’s nice to get to know the kids better. Little Simon (that’s the name they gave him, he doesn’t speak English or much at all, actually) never leaves my side. Doodoo demands a lot of attention and is constantly wiggling, which is quite funny with her large belly. Sarah cries every time she loses a sandal. Eddy is very sharp – a fast learner and with good humor – and his English is amazing. These children are examples of an amalgam of different situations that lead kids to be left without any guardians, and therefore spending time with them and their variety of experiences is excellent progress for my project. Some of the younger kids are from the street – they come from a background that is something like the African equivalent of the Roma… perhaps a closer example is the Maasai in Kenya. There is one boy you might notice in the pictures with a deformed hand. Many of the children living here were mutilated at the hands of their parents or family. Belief in witchcraft is pervasive, and people often do things such as, like in this boy’s case, dipping their son’s hands in burning oil for good luck or wealth. There is a child soldier, and other children who have been abandoned by their parents, for one reason or another (often poverty). In any case, it’s an incredible experience for me to work with them, and I’m learning a lot about the needs of these children. Perhaps the biggest daily struggle is looking at the scars on these children, both physical and emotional.
Hopefully I can find some more supplies to make the place a little nicer for Christmas… and I’m looking to make it less creepy-looking, considering children are living there, and hopefully we can put together something special together for Christmas, which will be the first time most of these kids have a chance to celebrate.
*I am as tired and ragged as I look.