Last Wednesday was my first day of work at the orphanage and it was even worse than I imagined. OHS and even general hygiene means nothing here, it’s a complete joke. Every child is sick, there are not enough beds, there are no tissues or toilet paper in sight and there were 2 people to care for all 24 children. This is now down to one (who coincidentally is 100% blind) as the other quit without any warning yesterday. It all just seems so unfair.
Today however marks a week since I started at the orphanage and a normal day consists of the following:
- I arrive at 7am, just in time to finish getting the children ready and then accompany them to school.
- Around 7:30am I come back to the orphanage and along with another volunteer, start the cleaning. This consists of 3-4 hours of sweeping the inside and outside of the orphanage, doing the washing up for 24 children, hand washing the clothes of 24 children… twice, cleaning the shower and the only toilet for all the children (which does not flush!) as well as cleaning out the ‘potty’ (a bowl where the little ones who cannot use the toilet do their business). Depending on the time we then play with the three children who are too young to go to school.
- At 11:30am we head back to the school to pick the children up. This is my favourite time of the day. The first day I arrived to pick them up a group of around 100 children gathered around yelling ‘yovo, yovo, bonsoir’ (which means white one, white one, hello!). It is however the smiles on our kids faces when they see us and the knowledge that for probably the first time in their lives they are the centre of attention and have something all the others want, a yovo, (in fact 2 yovos), that makes it all worth it.
- After changing out of school clothes, lunch is served which is eaten with their right hand (left is reserved for bathroom use) and usually consists of fufu (texture of sandy playdough) and chilli sauce with fish. After lunch there is a siesta for 30mins-1 hour.
- At 2pm it is time again to accompany the children to school and then at 3pm Sam and I usually finish for the day.
- On Wednesdays and Fridays (as the children don’t have school in the afternoon and don’t have school the next day) we arrive a little later and stay until the children go to bed at 8pm.
I have already fallen in love with each of them and cannot imagine the day in just less then two months when I will have to say goodbye. However, as much as I love each of them, so far I have had one pee on me while sitting on my lap, changed and washed the screaming baby in a half-full bucket of water full of her own pee…bare handed (there are no nappies or gloves in the orphanage), cut and cleaned/gutted fish using my fingers and been kicked right in the spot where I broke my leg, hard!
But I wouldn’t change it or them and although I come home absolutely exhausted everyday I look forward to seeing them all tomorrow.
There is however a maniac dog who hates my guts that I could do without seeing ever again. I’m almost 100% positive that if one day he actually wins the war against his chain and gets me I will need to be treated for rabies (obviously dreading this). Needless to say that each time that stupid dog is inches away from my ankle I squeal and run in the other direction which the kids think is hilarious. The yovo is scared of a little dog… I’ll show them all J