This day, Fatima showed us the entire grounds and it was so eye-opening. The buildings were sparse, with plain concrete walls and peeling paint on the cinder block walls. The housing for the older kids is much different, several beds in larger rooms, as they work within the accommodations they are allowed. Small beds lined the walls looking every bit like a stage set for the orphanage scenes of "Little Orphan Annie." Everything was clean and organized, as we've observed in the other housing as well.
The best part of the "tour" was getting to hear more of Fatima's incredible story, of how she came to the orphanage to help for a week when she was 16, felt the LORD's calling to remain, and hasn't left since (over 20 years ago). I hope to share more about this incredible servant, soon. We got some great photos to share, especially of Fatima with the kids (and me!) and I couldn't wait to get home to look at them. Well, before the day was done the boys had their turn taking photos. As I looked for the photos last night I realized with incredible dismay that they had all been deleted. Grief. I can't blame the boys, they don't know what the camera does when they press certain buttons. I blame the camera. Who needs a "delete all" button! Alas, they are gone. After searching through photos taken between now and the time we first arrived I've pieced together enough to still take you on a tour! Not as full a tour as I planned, but it will share the views most common to our days. So, if you'll follow me, I'll show you around the orphanage as we know it!
One day we arrived at the orphanage and outside of the front gate a couple of boys were using trashed lumber to build a treehouse. Their recent favorite play area is the dirt and rock pile left by construction work. They dumped it in the kids limited play area, which bothered me, but kids are much more gracious than adults and decided it was just the thing their play area needed! It provides a soft landing for flips, wrestling, and games of all kinds!
Jandri (the boy above) dug to the back of his drawer to pull out his obviously precious toy dog. This is his bed. The next bed is a boy's who is mentally impaired and can't keep sheets on his bed. As hard as they work to keep everything clean, a strong stench of stale urine still hangs in the air. These mattresses have been re-used by dozens of young kids and should have been replaced a decade ago, if not more.
Between the two of us we love on them as much as possible, enjoy as much time with them as we are allowed each day, and as we leave there is often a parade of kids following us down the road. I don't like them in the streets, for obvious safety reasons, but it's hard to get them to stay behind. The picture above was taken last week sometime, and is of Geoff and I being escorted the first several yards down the road as we say goodbye for the day. It's a hard enough time of day for me without the lingering goodbyes, but I cherish them. I am so thankful for these kids, and for all they've taught me about love, joy, and being content in any and every situation.
If you feel like I always do and aren't ready to leave the orphanage yet - there are a few more pics below!