I have now graduated to dispensing tablets for HIV/AIDs patients. I did feel a little uneasy to begin with. However, I was really into it by the end of yesterday afternoon.I suppose its a case of having to do it, when 2 of the 3 nurse specialists were away. Its called good planning. And I was the next best thing. I guess beggars can't be choosers. I satisfied myself each time I dispensed by going over with the nurse.I think I became a bit of pain in the neck to her. Well , its the cost of professional practice. This would never be allowed in UK. But then we are in Nepal......
At my request, Uma took me to the largest orphanage in Nepal . There are 295 children aged from 2/12 to 14 years living there. Ithas been established since 1964. The Nepal Children Centre (it is called) is housed in an old palace, residence of a prime minister of a goneby age. Walking around with a member of staff reminded me of a simplified version of Hampton court. We were shown some of the rooms where the younger children were sleeping and playing. It was around 1pm, a resting time for all.
In one room, there were 15 children (approx) aged @2 years napping on the carpeted floor .They were sleeping closely together, (for warmth I guess) ,with heads at both ends and feet touching in the middle.They have a lot of blankets cover them on top. I have to admit that they looked very snug and cosy. We have to tiptoe quietly so as not to wake them
In another room, there were 8 babies aged from 2 months to 8 months together with 10 toddlers around 18 months - 2 years of age. Most of the babies were asleep, but majority of the toddlers were awake.The minute they saw us ,they were reaching out with their arms, wanting to be picked up.One of them wound his little arms round Uma like an octopus tentacles, and would not let go. I suppose its crying out for some human contact and warmth. The 4 helpers in the room looked so overwhelmed.They provide good care, but the logistics of forming relationship and bonding fly out of the window when one tries to feed, clean and cloth these babies in record time .I asked 'what happens if all babies cry simultaneously and needing attention?'. I received a look from the member of staff, as if to say 'don't ask question which we have no answer for, stupid '
25% of the children are under school age. therefore there is a nursery and kindergarten in the centre itself. The older children go to the local lower (primary ) and higher (secondary ) schools.
Children are discharged, or rather leave at 18 after they have acquired an academic or vocatonal qualification. They then live in a supported enviroment with their peers
The main reasons for the childrem to be there are several. Children are orphaned, or abandoned through conflict. Children are abandond everywhere, at the bus stops, in the streets , train stations and so on. Sometimes its to do with the fact that the parents can't afford to feed them, others is step family problem, or parents have addiction issues. In some cases, the parents were imprisoned with no one to care for the children. During the long years of conflict between the Maoist guerillas and the previous government,many children were abandoned by their parents. The parents risked being killed because they were accused by both sides of being spies to the other. Now that peace is here, efforts are being made to reunite them with their families
The building was bequeathed to the centre through the passion of the late queen. The government made no contribution to the running of the centre.. There is a volunteer program at the centre.You have to pay for the privilege of working in that environment.I saw a wish list on the wall in one of the rooms we went in. It is asking for sponsors to provide basic things like milk powder, warm blankets and so on. Its pretty heart rendering stuff I tell you
Comparing the set up with Uma's, I think Uma's children stand a pretty good chance of developing into balanced adults because they are able tobond with one constant figure. They are able to have normal emotional attachment, thus developing trust in a relatioship. The poor children , especially the babies living in such a big institution are on a losing battle here with a staff ratio of 1 to 5/6/7. The problem is compounded by the presence of at least 2 youngsters with learning difficulties in each room . It is the modern ethos of intergrating children of all abilities.The poor helpers....
I feel pretty overwhelmed by this visit. I was asked to be a sponsor om the spot. I promised that I will seriously consider it on my return to UK. What they are asking for is"how long is a piece of string' I find myself wishing I have won the lottery. But then again it still would not solve the problem here. In Nepal, the problem is bigger and a lot more complex than just money