Friday, 11 September 2009

The Chair and Miscellaneous

What a lovely warm (normal) woman the Chair is ! She is the daughter of a very prominent politician in Nepal. She has no airs and graces, quite unusual in this part of the world , according to Uma, for someone in such a high profile position

We met her in her very grand office, in the presence of the director. We discussed the needs of the children , which are overwhelming. We agreed that two third will be spent on buying bed sheets, vests, towels, panties and ?children bra (we think its sports bra), with the remaining third to be spent on buying milk for the children . They appreciate that receipts are important to enable me to account for the money spent to the donors. It was agreed that Uma and I will buy the clothing and bedding. The director will authorise the purchase of the milk powder. At some stage, I will take photos of all the goods purchased.

During the past week. Uma and I have bought quality blankets, big towels, and placed an order for bedsheets and pillow cases for the toddlers room They will be ready for collection on Monday next. On reflection, it probably was quite an extravagant way of buying things. However, I do feel strongly that the toddlers' room where I volunteer should have the best because I am benefiting from the experience. I am so lucky to be placed in this particular room when I see the condition of other similar aged children running around in the corridor. They come from 2 other toddlers' rooms..May be its unfair to say this, it reflects the type and quality of care that these children receive on the day to day. Some of the younger ones even got caned and slapped the other day outside the corridor. I happened to be standing outside the toddlers' room taking a breather. It reminded me of Dickensian era of child care....Images of poorly clothed children with scars and scabs on their faces and bodies, running around with dripping noses.... and beaten .......
I do wonder how can there be such contrasts in child care in the same orphanage ?

I have also bought more bouncing balls for the kids because they were all fighting over them with just 4 balls amongst the 12 of them. The fact that the younger ones only know solitary play makes it impossible to have a group throw around. On the day I took the balls in, there were many prostrated little bodies lying on the floor! Each time a ball is snatched from a child, temper tantrum ensued with them throwing themselves on the floor. I almost caused a World War 3 in there. Today calmness and peace reigns with 8 balls for 12 children . Mendira told me she will be having 4 additional children after the holiday break( at the end of September onwards) with no extra resources available. Uma and I thought it will be a good idea to buy another blanket. This we will do over the weekend

Mendira was not at work yesterday due to a family problem. It meant that its only me and one other volunteer for staffing. It would seem that there is no communication between management and the front line staff. Would they still expect one volunteer to cope with 12 children in the event that only one worker turns up? How do they know if the one worker /volunteer is capable of doing the job with no support and help ? No one came to the room to find out. I found that quite worrying.... I was talking to Uma about things in general. I said that I have found working in the orphanage a little disappointing. She asked me not to compare it with the standards in the west. I have not. What I am doing is comparing the standard of her orphanage with the one at The Nepal Children centre where I am. If she can produce such good care, why can't the orphanage achieve part of her standard ? There is no minimum standards I suppose

With no Mendira, the children were all running around aimlessly. I decided that I had to take charge. So I arranged to have a play dough session. Every child climbed onto the chair , round the table , waiting for a piece of dough in his/her little hand. It goes to show how popular and creative children can be. No sooner than giving every child a piece, one or two younger ones (18 month-olds) started to sneakily put it in his /her mouth. Its because they are so vividly coloured that, it looked edible to the younger eyes .In between trying to make shapes with the older ones and rescuing bits of blue / red/ yellow play dough from a child's mouth, I was stressed for the first time since starting work in this room. The other volunteer helped a great deal. She was laughing her head off when I kept saying to the younger ones -' ni ni ni' with my fingers reaching into their mouths to take the dough out! The session lasted only 20 minutes. Its probably my longest 20 minutes since my arrival here. :( Phew ! )

I have discovered the reason for the lack of water from the taps in the toilets here. Its the fact that children have a tendency to play with water when they are unsupervised. With such a vast building -used to be a palace for Prime Minsters in the golden ages, that it is impossible to control the children's behaviour which can cost the management huge bills. They do have taps but only in designated places like kitchen and outside toilets in the teenagers' quarters . Admittedly there were clean water in the bucket in one of the toilets in the management corridor yesterday. I supposed a bucket of water will only last so long depending on the frequency of usage.I was unlucky today .

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