Monday, June 29, 2009

My First Day at the Orphanage

The verdict is still out about how much I like my new job. Today was my first day and it too soon to formulate an opinion. I now work at the Divine Providence Orphanage in Kakamega, in the baby wing. I help three other women look after five preschoolers, six babies who are roughly 6-18 months, and two very young infants. I get to work around 8 am when we start bathing, dressing, and feeding everyone. The next couple hours are spent cleaning, helping with the laundry (most of that is done by women prisoners on lone from the neighboring prison), making beds, and basically keeping the kids happy and entertained. Lunch, which was also my only break today, is around one o'clock when I eat with the Divine Providence Sisters who run the orphanage. This afternoon consisted of folding all the laundry and rocking fussy babies. My work day ended at 4:50.

In some ways it was fun working at the orphanage. The kids are ridiculously cute and who doesn't like rocking babies? Yet in many ways it is depressing work. The youngest baby, who by my guess is probably only a week or maybe two old, was abandoned in the forest. The staff treats the babies with love and kindness but there is only so much they can do. There isn't enough time to give everyone enough attention. Often it is the screaming child who gets picked up while quiet babies like Andrew are left lying in their cribs.

I don't know where I am going to get the energy needed to work at the orphanage. I don't know what is more tiring, chasing two year olds around the courtyard or dealing with a baby who screams every time I tried to put him down. Today we had almost finished feeding everyone, when one baby threw up his entire breakfast all over himself, me, and the floor. That meant changing him for the second time in thirty minutes, cleaning my clothes as best I could, and mopping the floor. Then, as if the work wasn't exhausting enough, there was the commute home. In order to get home (or to work for that matter) I have to take a 40 minute bus ride and then there is a 30 minute walk from the bus stop. Today it was pouring and it took me an hour and forty minutes to get home.

So this job could be very rewarding. Or it could mean a lot of long days. More than likely it will be both.

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