Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Orphanage

Due to the festival period, the day room where I have been working has been closed for over a week now .Reason being the 2 main workers are on leave. That means that the toddlers and the 3 and 4 year old have been stuck in their respective sleeping rooms upstairs without any toys or open spaces to run around during this period.

I went in last week to find that it is the common practice whenever the festival period is around. All the 'normal' toddlers are wondering around the room aimlessly, with no toys and people to interact with. They are all meandering in between the cots.It was terrible to see. The minute they see someone entering the room, who remotely resembling an interaction, they all came crowding round. Each time I went in , I would have numerous little arms out stretched to be picked up. With my bad shoulder, I can only pick one up at a time. The rest just fighting to get into the crooks of my legs. It was not an agreeable state of play in my book. However I chided myself that I am here, so I just have to get on with it. So I persevered till the end of last week.

Over the weekend, I mulled over repeatedly my feelings about working in the sleeping room upstairs for this coming week.The thought filled me with dread.I decided to play truant for 2 days. Its the first time ever , in my life that I failed to do something that's expected of me!.I did feel guilty, but came to the conclusion that if the orphanage don't care whether I go in or not, then why should I care ? I am totally demotivated, an alien experience for me.So I convinced Uma that we will take the children out for lunch yesterday.

We had a great time, stuffing ourselves with momos and pizzas. Its the second outing they have had. It transpired that two of the children have never been on an escalator before. So while we were out, we went to a shopping mall and took the 2 children up and down the escalator.It reminded me of the time when escalators were first introduced in Malaysia , about 20-30 years ago. My mother and aunt (her sister ) were really nervous about getting on this moving contraption.They would always prefer to walk up the stairs than trying to time their steps with this mechanical moving thing. We used to laugh our heads off at the two of them trying to negotiate the escalators they encountered. After the escalator experience, Uma took them all in a lift for them to feel the sensation of going up in a lift , albeit only to the fifth floor. We had a great day

Reluctantly I decided that I cannot skive the whole week, so I went in this morning . Though I knew that they would be desperate for play and interaction, it still hit me when went in. All the little arms are stretching out to be picked up. One of the Spanish volunteers was talking to me about getting a wheelchair for the 3 teenage girls with ?cerebral palsy ?learning disability. I was moaning about the lack of toys to keep the children occupied. He then gave me a dozen balloons for the children. As I was walking back to the room, I started to blow up some of the balloons on the way .Suddenly I had a crowd of older children 8-10 years old gathering around me , each crying for a balloon from me. I looked helplessly at Pablo, the Spanish volunteer to ascertain what I should do. He spoke to them in Nepali. I am not sure what he said to them. They were still whining and begging when I escaped into the room.

The balloon was a good therapy. It kept them occupied for a good hour. By then most of the balloons had been squeezed and burst. I then decided that I will swing each of these tots on my left /right leg for amusement. And that everyone will take his/her turn, forgetting that 18 month old do not understand about taking turns. Though I was generally keeping most of them happy, so I thought. Suddenly I felt a severe pain in my left ankle. One of the little blighters had bitten me out of sheer frustration of having to wait his turn. I am not proud to admit this. I reacted instinctively and pinched him to show him that it hurt.He glared at me and shook his head.There was a round teeth mark, but at least it didn't break the skin. So that was that.

All the while , the 2 workers in the room just sat and did nothing. They looked so dejected and uninterested in everything around them. ?A victim of the system ?

What shall I do tomorrow ? Do I go in and face the same ?

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