28.07.2009 - 28.07.2009 80 °F
38 newborns - 4 nurses.
It has become very difficult to fall asleep at night because of the little cries that I hear, over and over again, in my head.
I have been volunteering each day at the orphanage, but instead of working with toddlers, I have been with the babies. I was really excited to help in a different area, although I admittedly sneak out each day to see my wild and crazy toddlers. I am working with the littlest babies I have ever seen - today a baby was brought in weighing only 3 pounds. There are two rooms that are filled with tiny cribs for these tiny babies....16 newborns in each room. To give you perspective on the size of the rooms, each room is about the size of just one of my friend's nurseries at home...just for their one baby. There are small plastic bins lining the walls - each one pressed against the other - holding one precious baby in each.
These are not orphan babies in the sense that their parents may have died in an accident...these are not babies that have been given up for adoption...but, rather, these are babies conceived through adulterous relationships and have been abandoned. Under Islam, adultery is criminalized by law and includes both pre-marital and extra-marital sex...not mention, it is considered a shameful sin. So, these babies are brought in by the police and they are often found by trash cans and dumpsters around the city and within the alleyways of the medina.
Talk about breaking your heart.
Out of the 38 babies only 4 of them are girls. Girls are the first to be adopted here for a variety of reasons. First, men are thought to be able to take care of themselves, where girls are taken care of in Moroccan culture. For example, I have learned that you will see no homeless girls or women in Morocco, but there are boys and men who are homeless. Females will get picked up from the streets and brought into someone's home instead of living on the street. Also, since men are free to go off to travel, work, and get married, they are less likely to take care of an aging parent. Whereas, women are less inclined to do such things and will therefore care of their parents as they grow older.
Anyways, when I get to the orphanage in the morning, I help with changing their beds, bathing them, changing diapers, clothing them, and then feeding them their bottles. However, the thing I do - and give more than anything else - is LOVE. There is so much work to do and the nurses here move fast.....so fast in fact that they move from task to task like a machine...not like nurturing providers. Babies are woken up without a word, pulled from their clothes, and put under the faucet...talk about a rough wake-up!! But, I make it a point to carefully wake each baby by name, saying "Good Morning, ______!!", while hugging them, and singing to them. It's difficult to know which one to pick up and how long to love on them before moving on to the next baby. However, it's the putting them down that is the toughest, because once they leave your warm arms, they start sobbing. Even with all of us volunteering, each baby is probably only held for a total of 20 minutes a day. How much does that hurt your heart? There's no way for these babies to get what they deserve and it's so sad having a first-hand account of what an orphanage is really like. I often wonder after we leave, how long do they lay there before they feel someone touch them again? If they cry, how long does it take before they are checked on? What repercussions will they live with from this lack of attention and touch?
When I snuck out of the nursery today, I quickly went and sat in the toddler's playpen and let them crawl, drool, kiss, and hug all over me. It's amazing what their laughter does for my soul...they are hearts on legs.
I feel blessed to know, however small it may be, I am making a difference. I am proving love where they wasn't any and I am giving human contact to their love-starved bodies. I think it's safe to say that I have been forever changed by what I have seen and what emotions pulse through me by living this experience.