OK—so today we started out our day splitting up a couple of us—some people really feeling called to help Ashli at her place—so maybe 5-6 people went there and the rest of us went to go see who “Jimmy” was and what his story was. Up until this point, it was kind of a running joke who this guy was—because we knew nothing, other than his name and he was trying help a govt run orphanage. So we pull up to see two blond haired girls, a blonde lady and then then this guy with a 2 day beard and hair in a pony tail. So THIS must be Jimmy Gross!!
Well, we had some kids come around the van, curious as to what we were doing there—but basically, Jimmy told us how the Lord has led his family here to Addis and then he went into how this place was run, etc. He said that they really cleaned up for us us, expecting our visit—we could really do whatever we wanted, play with whomever—but no pictures. So….ok. We went on our “tour” and met some of the kids outside of the special needs area…but I went on to the next are and saw the toddlers. I have never had a child hand back a piece of candy because they didn’t like it—some of the children were so very sweet and some were aggressive and we did not seem to be able to get them to listen, as they were grabbing at things.
I made a fast new friend and had a little 2 or 3 yo girl stuck to my hip for a lot of the time. She was the most beautiful little girl with these gorgeous curls and apparently had an adoptive family, but then a medical exam said there was something wrong with her leg, so now she will not be adopted. I guess she limps a bit when she walks—but I never noticed it. Jimmy had numerous stories of where these children came from, their story—and it was heart breaking.
So we then went on to the baby room. Now the 1st room was tiny babies—and I mean tiny. They said some of them come in with their umbilical cord still on. Some of the babies are dropped off—some are born in a hospital and the mother leaves. Whatever the case may have been—these babies were tiny and they needed love. All of the children here have their diaper changed 2x/day. That is what they have, so that is what they do. I would estimate that there were about 20 of these very small babies—2 to a crib. And then they had the older babies—under a year old—many 2 to a crib—and maybe another 15-20? These were babies that were getting ready to move—some pulling up in their crib—that mind you, had only probably a foot of rail on them—so how many babies could flip out of there, who knows…but none the less—there was not enough hands on deck to help care for these little ones! Some of the nannies were very compassionate with them—and some were just doing their job, it looked like. I could not imagine doing their job. I did not even make it out of this area, since there was never enough time to even walk through, in order to get out of this area, before it was time to go. It was great to talk with Rachel (Jimmy’s wife) to see how they have made this their family’s mission to move here—but there was just so much need, we were overwhelmed. We gave the donations that we brought for them and prayed over their family and said good-bye.
Others in our group that played with the older kids (3-5 years old) said that many of them would not listen and follow directions and that kids did what they wanted and even were rude at times. My mom said she had quite the line going, as they waited for their turn for her to push her on the one swing. This orphanage was unsafe on so many levels. To even get around on their grounds it was dangerous at times, with jagged rocks at the entrance to buildings, ditches next buildings that children can fall into—it was a mess. They had great space, but the physical buildings and grounds need a lot of work. We would love to partner or do something with this place, but it may be too difficult, as it is a govt orphanage. We will revisit this idea and I know we will be back to help with teams to come, no matter what. There is GREAT need and those children and nannies need so many prayers. Pray that they these children get into families and fast…they do not belong here. They deserve more than that. And we did not even see half the kids that were at school that morning! Oh—but we saw their bedroom—bunk beds all pushed together, with a couple cribs in there, as well—one room was for older girls, but another room was mixed and he has seen 4 kids in one bed at times. They get a new kid dropped off just about every day. Our hearts were broken when we left there…knowing there has to be more for them.
In the afternoon, we went to Mother Teresa’s HIV Orphanage and it we were all in shock by the dramatic contrast between what we were selling and what we just experiences. This place was clean, the grounds were beautifully maintained—children were all napping at the same time, and then we saw the new school! Oh my—this is a school that we would send our children to. Even though some of the children may have had very worn uniforms on, they seem to be learning at an earlier and faster pace than our children! They have integrated the orphanage kids with the community kids 50/50, so they charge the community children to pay a fee for this private education. It was an impressive 3 story building…with a very capable head master that poke with us about this school. We ended our tour with a tour of the hospital and clinic. There had some sick babies in it—one having TB and her mother had brought her sick baby in from a remote village to get treatment and they will be there for about 2 months. They seem to have a great facility, well staffed and supplies.
This was so very different when Mark and we walked in last year at this time—as we were left with one nanny and maybe 40 toddlers to try to be in charge of, as we were attempting to hand out suckers and I was being mobbed…and the sister told me not to hand out the chalk, because they needed it for the school room. VERY different than what we saw. It was great to see kids that looked so healthy and that things were really going so very well for them!! Progress is very exciting to see. Even the road that we took to get there—was being constructed—and the road was actually down, versus us being stuck in mud to try to get there!! Oh how much has changed in one year. Thank you God for that. And I was so happy that people could see that HIV+ kids could be healthy and people can have the stigma wired clear from their mind. That was a gift right there.
Some of us went back to Korah to visit with the after school kids, since we were not able to the other day we came to visit. (We were told not to come back, since it was a holiday, and people would be drinking—so they did not want u in harm’s way.) On our ride there, I am eating my peanut butter crackers and it dawned on me—they probably don’t even get a snack—lets get them a snack—so we did. Masti (one of our guides) and I purchased orange soda and cookies for the children and I walked in my flip-flops from the store to the church where the kids were—not an easy thing to do—with all the rocks and glass on the “road” in Korah! But a child’s mother came and helped me carry the soda—she was very sweet. We were able to spend some time with the kids and of course was greeted with great big hugs and welcomes. I have never had a child that did not know me, give me the live that they children give to us—this one child seriously had a bear hug on me! It was great fun.
So we had been waiting all day to hear something about our Uganda part of the trip—because there was a possibility that it would be canceled due to the president being sworn in the same day we were to arrive…and they expected violence. So we got the call from Amanda and the decision was made—we are not traveling to Uganda. Many people were quite bummed out—but knew this was God’s plan—and none of this surprised Him—but boy, did it shock us a bit!! We were so looking forward to seeing Uganda and especially the Sixty Feet ministry—where the kids are in prison. I mean, really—what are we going to do with all these flip flops?? But I guess this gives us more time to be here—and there is certainly great need here.
So we will make a new schedule and have it all work out.