Last Friday Sister Diane stopped by the volunteer house to tell the three of us that we would be temporarily receiving two new kids, and asking us to give them extra love and attention. These kids have no parents (they are either gone or dead) and were being raised by their grandfather. At one point the grandfather’s cousin had taken them in, but she is already taking care of a ton of other grandchildren and barely has the means to feed them. (With the HIV/AIDS epidemic primarily targeting and wiping out the generation of people 20-50 years old, suddenly all these elderly people find themselves taking care of tons of orphaned grandchildren.) Last Friday a home visit was paid to these kids’—four and seven years old—home and they were found chained to a tree. Apparently this is how the alcoholic grandfather took care of them when he left to drink. They were taken immediately and we will be taking care of them until they can be put into a proper orphanage (since they are not from our catchment area). Since they are not in school, from 8am-2pm they wander around on their own, so we have taken them in—giving them special attention and love. Someone jokingly referred to the guest house, where the three of us volunteers are living and where we entertain these two kids and the baby each day, as a halfway house, which it really has become.
A few times with the baby I felt conflicted with how I should treat her. For example, sometimes she demands to be carried, but I worried that if I always pick her up, she will be in for a rude awakening when she arrives at an orphanage and nobody there picks her up. But with these three kids I have come to the conclusion that they have had pretty shitty lives, so I really should spoil them as much as possible in the short time I have with them. So I make them special snacks like pudding and peanut butter crackers and leftover cheesecake and I hold the baby as much as she demands it.
Today all three kids were in the living room/kitchen area where we always hang out. I was preparing pudding when suddenly the little 4-year-old boy ran outside and his 7-year-old sister ran after him. I thought it was strange because I know they like pudding, but then I saw them out the window. At some point between our front door and the window, the older sister had gotten him out of his pants. A good thing because he started to pee shortly after. Then he started to squat, but she apparently told him not to go there, and she led him behind the latrines (most homesteads don’t have latrines or toilets, so when kids first arrive they are accustomed to, and best at, just pooping on the ground. Afterwards they came back, we washed hands with soap, and they thoroughly enjoyed their pudding.