Monday, 7 September 2009

My First Day at The Orphanage

Well , at least I can say I have survived the first two days at the orphanage.

Uma came with me to the orphanage. Firstly to give me support , at the same time to request a meeting with the Chair of the Children's centre. We now have a meeting on Friday to formally discuss how the fund I have collected can help to meet some of the centre's needs. We are talking about 800 USD, more if necessary (I have always liked to keep a bit in reserve for just in case)

I am to be working in the toddlers' room for the next 3 weeks.. The children 's age range from 18 months to 3 years old ish. Interesting enough ,the 18 month- old are as big as some of the 3 year old. There are 12 children in the toddlers' day room. Apart from one paid worker, Mendira, there are 3 volunteers with me included. Mendira is a very warm Nepali woman with a relaxed and happy disposition. She is in her 40s with 2 children of her own.

One of my biggest anxieties before I started here is having to work in the orphanage for the 3 weeks without any proper communication with the workers and the children .It was a great relief to me that one speak perfect English, and the other two can understand well with little spoken English

For the first time in my life , I have to create and improvise games to play with toddlers at the various ages.The worst part is I can't tell how old they are in order to introduce age appropriate games.. This is a new concept to me. I was rather panicking . In the end I just had to go with the flow. Speaking to Uma about it in the afternoon, she was right when she said that 'don't worry about how to play with them. The children will come and play with you ' She is so right.

One of the things I learnt quickly yesterday was that all the information I acquired as a Health Visitor , then Manager about child health , supervision and training etc, they serve only as a reminder that I once was a health worker, nothing more. Any aspect of child care here bears no resemblance to what UK does. Just as well, because age is only a figure . A 4 year old looks like an 18 month old and vice versa. How then does one instigate age appropriate play? In any case, a lot of the toys are broken but still kept on display . An example is the colourful shape sorter.The main body is there with no shapes available to slot into the different holes.

We were each given a small piece of blue play dough to make shapes. It was such a small piece that it is not possible to do anything . Then the children sitting round the table started to snatch from one another. They began to cry . I discovered that the dough was so old that it was sticking to the table and it had to be literally scrapped off. There was only one pot anyway. I understand it was given by a foreign volunteer some while back. It has really past its sell by date.

So, while I need to do the official thing about making the fund available for the orphanage per say, the fact that I am working in the toddlers' room means that I would like to benefit the children in the room as well .I had a discussion with Mendira and the volunteers. They said that a supply of play dough, beads(to thread ), soft ball of various sizes, fragrant sprays for the room will be a good start. They asked whether I could stipulate that fruit and milk could be delivered to the toddlers' room regardless whether they are in short supply or not. I said I will try when I meet the chair on Friday. It would appear that whenever they are short of funds, the milk and fruit are cut from their diet from say 3 times a day to maybe once only.They all said that the best thing I can do for the children in the room is to guarantee them fruit and milk !

Uma and I went out this afternoon looking for the verious items.The only thing we could not find is the beads, So we 'll try another day. They will be happy with what we managed to get I am sure

A very satisfying day today. This is because I have managed to find my way home on a bus, costing me only 20 NR, as opposed to 180-200NR if I were to go home by a taxi. I accept thatI will have to pay 150NR (Uma threatens the driver ) to take me to the Orphanage in the morning. It will give me a stress free start to the day However it will be rather extravagant of me and immoral to pay @350NR (=3-4 pounds ) each day just to go to work and back. An avarage monthly Nepali pay is only @ 14000NR. I walked all the way home yesterday because I could'nt figure out how to take a bus from the orphanage. It took me over 2 hours to get home. It was a long walk! Mendira explained to me the bus route etc today. So I thought 'hmm.... another challenge '. When I walked in through the door an hour an a half earlier than yesterday, even Uma was impressed

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