They love also to touch our hands, reaching out. Their frequent smiles tell us they are happy and well cared for. The school president's daughter-in-law is a medical doctor and oversees their health and hygiene.
Though these orphans have so little in the way of possessions, (I have only seen one "toy" in the entire orphanage - a volleyball and net,) they are so much better off than they were before they entered the orphanage. Only the very youngest preschoolers seem sad.
The institute has a capacity of 75 children, according to the funding they receive from the sponsoring churches, but there are 78 children here now. They explain that it is just too hard to turn down a child. Preachers who have graduated from the institute often find a homeless child in the villages where they preach and bring them in.
We were given a tour of the dormitory rooms. We saw rows of triple bunk beds. These are like metal shelves, with no mattress, only a mat about the thickness of a beach towel on top of the flat metal. And they have only had these beds for the last 4 years, sleeping on the concrete floor prior to this. Even this is better than sleeping outside on the ground where they were found.
As I was counting the beds, I multiplied them by three to see how many children shared this one room. I was corrected and told that each bed held six children, two on each level! The girls happily demonstrated for us.
We ladies inquired about the possibility of providing a thick mat for each bed. They took us shopping in the wholesale district where we found we could have some made. After some bargaining we agree on a price. We hope to see these on the beds before we leave.
- Laurel Sewell