I’m not really sure how I am feeling right now.
So I just went over to the orphanage with three of the youth from our centre. I don’t want to suggest that it is all terrible. It is clean and it you can tell that the kids are being fed well… but it definitely wasn’t good.
There were some kids who very clearly needed special care and were not receiving it; signs of neglect were significant. I saw a number of sores and skin problems that were not being treated. The one who was the clingiest didn’t speak (though he was probably about four years old) and instead communicated through a series of affectionate grunts. Probably the most difficult was that there was only one who responded when I asked his name. All of the others either were too young to respond or simply avoided the question.
I’ve been to Tijuana, Mexico and helped out with a day care centre there. This was nothing like that. In Tijuana, the woman who runs the centre is so caring and dedicated. Her entire family ensures that all of the kids there are well loved. Though there were some kids who you could tell needed a bit of extra care, they all had families to go home to. In Mexico, I also got a chance to interact with some kids who were literally living in a slum in a canyon. The kids in the canyon (that I saw at least) still had caring adults who were looking out for them – some of them (including one of the women whom I respect most in this world) going to great lengths to make sure that the kids knew they were loved.
Today what struck me most was the absolute lack of care.
The three teenage boys I went with were great though! They helped bring the kids outside and they would push them on swings, help them on the monkey bars and offered them comfort when they cried. They had been there many times before and I am incredibly glad that they have done this for a while and are still willing to help out. Many more will be available to help out over the next few weeks. They all talk about how much the kids just need people to play with them.
We will definitely be going back again.
Drew Badgley is a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, studying International Development Studies, currently on Co-op placement in Guyana.