Friday, May 26, 2006

Christin's Kenya Update 5/26

hey everyone!

as i write this, morgan and i are out doing some last minute errands, etc. before we head on our safari. we leave tomorrow morning (Saturday) and don't get back until Tuesday afternoon, so i hope we end up seeing lots and lots of amazing animals! going on a safari is really encouraged for people like us volunteering. in fact, they say you should only work about two weeks before you take a break from it all. it's super easy to get attached to the kids, and being around them a lot without any breaks really creates an emotional upheaval when you leave for home. it's hard to explain, but we each feel as though we really need this break and distance at this point.

i thought i would tell you a little about how things work at NLH. there are about 60 staff there, but at any given time there are probably only 3-5 paid individuals that are with the children. everyone else is volunteer. in Kenya, they seem to create a lot of jobs for people. for example, guards at every gate, waiters in a food court, each place of residence has its own gardener, etc. the volunteers end up doing much of what the paid staff does in regards to the children.

there are many babies at NLH who are happy and healthy, even if they are really really small for their age. however, there are some babies that really struggle and will face many challenges in their life. Lance is one of those babies. He is blind and has cerebral palsy. It's so hard because in the USA, he would more than likely have a lot of one on one time with an adult. But here, he's just one of fourteen and doesn't get a lot of attention or things done with him. He is lucky though, in the fact that NLH provides occupational therapy for him 3 times a week. Curt is another baby that struggles with many problems. We know he is blind, but there are many other things that seem to plague him. He, too, is a baby that demands attention, yet there aren't enough volunteers or individuals trained in what to do to give him the attention he needs to develop normally.

Catherine is an HIV positive baby at NLH. The last two days were some of the worst. Apparently, when a small child has HIV they are prone to many skin rashes/infections. She had one this past week that prevented her from wearing a lot of her clothing. Like other babies, when they are sick or not feeling well, they want the love and attention of being held and kept close. She wanted that too, however, the action of holding her would create pain because her skin was so irritated that it would be worse. It's so hard watching a baby cry to be held and comforted but knowing that doing so will just create more pain and discomfort.

Then there are babies like Elijah, Eddah, Edmond, and Erica who do nothing but smile and laugh and play. Plus, they all have this little 'fros and look so cute! Elijah looks just like a baby Jimmie Hendrix, I swear. And when Eddah recognizes you, she stretches out her hand to touch you and then crinkles her nose up when she smiles. Looking at these babies, I pray every night that they will find the home and family that deserves them and will cherish and love them the way they are meant to be.

So, on another note, I finally had my first good Kenyan food. I know! Exciting! It was like a big, thick, homemade tortilla that was deep fat fried. And then I put butter and sugar on it (very healthy). I don't know how that could taste bad, but it probably could here, so I was so pumped when it tasted like crispos at Amigos!

I thought I would also share with all of you the website of NLH: It's great, and has pictures on it, so you can kinda see what it's like there.

Thank you so much for all of the emails! They are great and I love hearing/reading about what's going on back home. I miss and love all of you!



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