There are so many emotions that run through you while visiting an orphanage in Uganda (or anywhere in the world for that matter), and even more so when visiting two in one day. I will use this post to talk about the first one we visited, Nguru and will leave Dwelling Place for another time. Although both located in Kampala, they are very different and I don’t think combining them would do them justice or truly be able to portray the emotions felt at each.
Nguru is a government run orphanage which means children picked up off the street go straight there until they are processed out to some other place. That being said, the children there that come through the doors have deep, deep scars; emotional and physical. One young child, maybe one and half years old, had a burn so bad on her chest it was hard to imagine what could of happened and by whom. Then there was a boy who had so many scars on his head and face, you wouldn’t even want to guess what his emotional scars are, and sadly, you didn’t have to from his void of emotion blank stare. I enclosed a photo of him and another boy who wanted a photo taken with the boy I mentioned. He must take care of him or watch out for him, as lots of Ugandan children due in these circumstances. The boy I just mentioned also didn’t speak and his eyesight was poor due to bruises and swelling on his face. He also had a large five inch scar on the middle of the back of his head that looked like someone took a machete to him or some major harm was done on purpose, I assume. My point of telling you about these children is to simply tell you the reality of life at a government run orphanage.
Our day was spent trying to connect with the children which occurred in many different manners. Elizabeth held babies for the majority of her time, Michael played “Simon Says” to help loosen the children up, Terry sang “Father Abraham” and held children who needed extra love, and Janet played “patty cake” and “jump rope” to try and connect with as many children as she could.
I will start off by saying at times it was quite overwhelming. There were so many children 120+ and only a few of us, and all each of them wanted was love, and to be acknowledged. At any one time you had at least five children holding your hand, or shirt or leg; or fighting over who had the preimer holding hand spot. I started my day by playing a game of “pass the plastic doll arm and rusty nail” back and forth with a little boy. It seemed so odd, but with a language barrier and lack of toys that is how he connected with me. He later would be one of the children always with me holding my arm at all times.
Their toys are whatever the children find; a toothbrush, a lug nut, one girl was crocheting with a piece of metal wire, you had random doll parts lying around, and the hardest one to swallow was pieces of glass or a broken mirror that they carried around as a toy.
One great part of the day was the handing out of dresses made by Ms. Sipe’s class from Green Lake Elementary in Seattle. Ms Sipe’s Mother had passed away recently and left her with all kinds of fabric and material. To honor her Mother, her class of elementary students decided to make dresses for the girls in the orphanage. When the girls put them on their faces and sparkle in their eyes could light the sky, they were so happy.
I think the hardest part of leaving an orphanage is that you never know if you will ever see these children again and the odds are that you won’t. So in the shortest amount of time you try to connect, love them up, and just let them know they aren’t alone in this world, no matter where life takes them next. And finally, hope that they will find a safe place to lay their sweet an innocent heads now and in the future.