On Thursday, while I was volunteering in Ayacucho, Peru, with Cross Cultural Solutions, we went to the orphanage. After that day, we decided that the organizers of our stay started us with the easier placements and worked up to the hardest ones. The first of the week wasn’t too bad, but by Thursday, we were feeling more stressed and challenged. Meg, Tina, Gayle and I became nervous for Friday, our last day there. How could it be more stressful than an orphanage of 150 boys and girls, some orphans but some just dropped there by parents who couldn’t afford to raise them.
We worked with the infants and toddlers. The youngest baby, a month old, had lost his mom and been brought to the orphanage when we was five days old. The infants went down for their naps around ten. The one year olds were not so lucky.
They were fun, a little sassy with each other, demanding our attention and not sharing their limited toys very readily. But by eleven, a few of them were getting sleepy, and the woman who worked there let us know that they were not to nap. Though we didn’t speak Spanish well enough to understand her, her gestures clearly told us that the toddlers had to stay awake. She even took one to the sink and splashed water on his face. It was heart-breaking.
Close to noon, another woman came in and they started taking the little ones, two by two, to feed them lunch. After they ate, they went down for their naps, whether they were tired or overtired. And, in somewhat of a daze, the four of us wandered downstairs to wait for the bus to pick us up.
Meg and I surrounded by the orphans and their toys. The window was their own contact with the outdoors. They loved it when we held them up to the window so they could watch the world go by.