It now looks
after 92 children ranging in age from a few months to 20 year olds. The babies
are looked after at home by Alfredo's mother and they join the others when they
are 2 or 3 years depending on whether other babies arrive. The orphanage is
housed in a ramshackle collection of buildings on the edge of town. They have a
large hall where everything except eating, cooking and sleeping takes place,
there are plenty of musical instruments which many of the children learn to
play. There are: 2 dormitories where the children sleep 3 to a bunk or on
matresses on the floor which are stacked up during the day, the bunk beds have
to be pushed together as there is no space for anything else; a kitchen, a
dining area and little else. The children danced and sang for us wonderfully and
we to them ...Old McDonald's farm etc....less wonderfully.
The kitchen was in a tin shed, all the children are taught to cook in
there over roaring wood fires.
hauled from 32 metres down in the well, there is no pump and this is their only
water source, it all has to be boiled for drinking. Whilst we were there the
boys were taking turns to haul up the water for some of the girls who were doing
the laundry in several old large plastic containers, it was all very
grand in the dry season but in the wet season when the area is ankle deep in
water, washing and drying the laundry is quite a different task.
having to buy rice occasionally the orphanage is almost self sufficient with its
food supplies. A small plot is rented where the youngsters grow most of their
vegetables and rear chickens and pigs which they eat but also sell at market.
They have their own rice padis but these are a long drive away. The children
work hard, they work the land, look after the animals, cook, clean and look
after each other as well as getting a full education.
The home is
remarkably good at developing the children, the main thrust is to give them life
skills and to educate them to their maximum potential so that they are best
prepared to make their way in the world. They are supported until they can do
that and since it started 20 children have made it through to University. A
beautiful 20 year old spoke to us in good English of her plans to become a
teacher. When these more able young people start to make their way
professionally the expectation is that they will 'bless' the orphanage with
financial and other support.
managed to get a piece of land from Government and has built a small school
there. Some of the younger children are ferried 3 at a time on Alfredo's moped
to the school which is some miles away. The older children attend state schools
but schooling is not free here so it all has to be paid for. The family, and
Alfredo in particular, spend much of their time identifying funding
opportunities and somehow seem to manage.