Today we went for our first visit with a private orphanage in Awassa. We delivered supplies (diapers, toddler shoes, clothes and bottles), played with the children and were honored with a coffee ceremony by the orphanage officials. This private orphanage housed 50 children – two babies had just arrived the night before we visited. The caregivers gave bleak picture of the state of Awassa orphans.
Since the virtual end of the international adoption business in Ethiopia, they have seen their orphanage which typically holds a maximum of 38 kids rise to 50 children with more space needed for more children. All of the kids were aged 10 days to 5 years except one 4th grade HIV-positive boy who had recently been transferred to the orphanage from another orphanage that closed. The 4th grade boy was very shy and modest and as I spoke with him with the help of our translator I could not help but wonder all of the hardship this young boy had seen in his lifetime.
The kids at this orphanage were in stark contrast to the state-operated orphanage where we spent day 1 of our trip. The kids were confident, not attention-starved, and they were all very clean and appeared healthy. The few exceptions were several babies who had been received in such dire states that they were slowly making their way back to health. One 10 day old baby had just arrived at the orphanage and was extremely tiny. The success story of the orphanage was a bright, smiling little girl who was received at the orphanage weighing 1.5 kilos and with the umbilical cord still hanging from her tummy. She was getting adopted and would have someone to see her through life as she had respiratory issues.
The orphanage gets very little assistance from the government and depends on private organizations (like ours) for almost 100% of their support. The House Manager was a lovely woman who is a nurse and obviously the life-blood of the facility. She was very loving and we all marveled at how lucky these special kids were to have the care she provides. All the caregivers and administrators were so very gracious and we hope to return to this orphanage on our next mission and not see too many familiar faces.
We spent the remainder of the day at the vast Awassa outdoor market shopping for 900 pencils, 900 sharpeners, 500 essay books, 4 brooms, paint for wall murals, color coded stickers for organizing the library and teacher smocks all to benefit the DMP school children as we are returning for a full day of work on Sat, June 14th. When the kids are not at the school, we hope to be especially productive however they do pitch in with anything we are attempting. It’s just sometimes you don’t need 849 extra pairs of hands on 1 project! Love their enthusiasm however!!!! We are all looking forward to arriving at the DMP School tomorrow morning.