|Inside the entrance to Sanyu Babies Home|
The dress I had been given by a friend was sleeveless. I was told by my fellow homelander, Martha on our way to the Sanyu Babies Home that it would be acceptable only to wear at Sanyu. That if I visited to volunteer at the Mengo Hospital the rules were thus: no shoulders, knees or thighs. We joked breasts and bums were ok though.
I had overhead many conversations about the need for help at Sanyu. Especially for the feeding. We arrived after the morning’s feeding. In time for play.
We were shown the classroom. Shoes off. Notices posted on the door alerted us to the rules. No photographs. No holding children on your lap. Once inside I counted twelve children, I suspect under two years old – except for maybe one. There were two what Sanyu calls “mothers” or caregivers to watch over them. I sat down and felt tears swell up inside. I had never been to an orphanage. These children don't have parents and this is Africa.
Like any daycare back home, there was routine. Play, singing, lots of singing, diaper changes, snack, change of clothes then lunch.
The mothers carried two children at a time. There was a path to the feeding room. I took baby Esther and stuck my pinky out to an older boy who stopped in the middle of the path wailing. He grabbed on for comfort and held tight.
There are three classrooms and all the children are ushered into the feeding room at once. It was a walk through a dark hallway. No lights. No power.
There are desk-like wooden tables set up on the floor for the older ones. The younger ones lined up in one long high chair.
I didn’t feel it appropriate to use my initiative in this situation and waited to be asked to assist. I was given a plate of g-nut and matooke with three spoons. Many of the children cried. I quickly shoved food into open mouths. Then a mother plunked another child down. I attempted to feed four at once. I don’t think they minded I was a Mzungu (a white person).
Then it was the bottles. I couldn’t hold more then two at once. And would have to leave the others to cry their turn.
One baby fell asleep. Head down. Some continued to cry. Others sat content. Then one by one they were lifted down for a face wash and change of clothes. It was nap time.
Watson had his appointment with the eye specialist today. We were to take him with a mother to the clinic. A lucky boy. Martha had been helping all week at Sanyu and knew most of the children by name. I thought about the hope in the day. And smiled. Watson wasn't the only lucky one. Earlier in the day when Martha had asked a mother where Benjamin was today we got some good news.
Benjamin had been adopted.