Lights out

You know my feeling on orphanages. Call them what you may, transitional homes, institutions, group homes, but if there are not parents, it is not where children belong. This week we are staying at a place that is a Temporary place of Safety for children. The intention is that it is a place of safety until children with no parents can be until families are found. Right now there are about 30 children where we are staying; babies and toddlers.

I did not go to see them today, although we are told we are welcome to do so. It is just too much. When I walk in I disrupt everything, every child runs for attention and then when I try to leave I just create more chaos and crying.

But tonight, as we were eating our dinner, the electricity went out. The toddlers started howling and we decided it was time to help. We found them screaming in the bathroom as bath time was about to start. Jill and Lauren turned on their flashlights which got the children’s attention. A mass of diapered toddlers began moving towards us. Lauren was on the floor with a dozen hands reaching for her. Jill was holding one and talking to another. I picked one up, but there were still a few crying. You could see they were very scared. As the nannies gathered candled, Jill turned on some music from her phone and we all started to dance and sway. Jill moved to the center of the room and most of the children followed. Most of them surrounded her and were mesmerized by her box of light and music.

I was still holding 2 of them swaying along to the music. One of the nanny’s was bathing a child and the next would diaper and put on their pajamas (footy sleepers in this heat!!!). Jill and I managed the rest while they waited their turn. I soon realized one of the babes on my hit was soaking wet. I brought him/her to the bathroom for her bath and the generator kicked in. We snuck out to finish dinner.

Can you imagine? Sitting on a hard tile floor with 5 wet sweaty babies vying for you attention? They all want to be kissed, to be touched to be smiled at. They all want what every child wants: love and attention. It is impossible. There were 5 of us in that room and we could not manage. Typically there are only 2 or 3. I hate orphanages. I hate that there even needs to be temporary places of safety. What in the world is the matter with this world? Every child should be comforted during a power outage or a thunderstorm. Every child should be able to dance. Whether that child is in America or Africa. Russia or Guatemala. None of this should matter.

So I say Shame on you governments who are so busy worrying about budgets and kickbacks and policies and shame on you people who think children are slaves to be used for your comfort. And shame on you people who pretend this problem doesn’t exist. We can put on a man on the freaking moon, we can send a space ship to Mars that won’t even arrive there in my life time, but we cannot care for humans in our own world.

Bono has given amazing speeches. Madonna has made documentaries. Nicholas Kristof has written books. Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, have all fought for equality and care for all people. These are powerful people with a lot of influence. People with money. People with an audience. I am just one sweaty mid-western Social Worker who is ruled by political correctness and policy. All I have is my voice. And my small audience of like-minded people. Which is great, but it does not create change.

I am governed by donor money and State, Federal and Interracial law. But I will not stop telling these stories. Just tell one person that your friend sat in a dark room with wet toddlers crawling over her because they were terrified. Just tell one person that your friend met a sibling group of 5 who were all neglected which resulted in sexual abuse. Tell one person that I stood on a roof top in Haiti being shown all the homes where children were being used as slaves. Tell a friend about the child in Holland born addicted to cocaine. Use your voice. Fight with me please


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