We get sick for many reason over here on this side of the world. We get stomach pains from yucky tummy bugs, we get stuffy noses and headaches from mold buildup in the bathroom (the ventilation system in bathrooms here isn't properly installed, therefore we have to scrub the ceiling and walls with bleach), and we catch the usual colds and such from friends and coworkers. Living in a foreign country can do a number on your body... and the foreign germs can cause quite a bit of sickness.
But this weekend I got sick for a different reason.
When I went to the orphanage a few days ago, the majority of the children were sick. Their faces were sullen, their bodies warm with fever, and their noses constantly dripping. One little boy was quarantined to his crib all alone in another room for having some other kind of sickness the workers didn't want spreading. My heart broke as I heard his quiet cries in the other room, knowing he was longing to play with all the other children.
One little girl who is about my daughter's age looked especially down. She always has "sad eyes" but today her eyes were even more so. She just sat there with her eyes glazed over staring at nothing. I could tell she didn't feel well as she was warm to the touch, and her hair was plastered to her face with dried mucus. I cuddled her in my arms and stroked her head, gently playing with her to keep her occupied and stimulated. The orphanage doctor was giving the children medicine, but from the same spoon for all of them. *shudder*
All of a sudden a lady came into the room screaming at one of the workers. She was wearing a special coat and holding an official looking clipboard, so I am assuming she was a manager. She yelled back and forth with this particular worker, and the only words I could make out amidst their spitfire argument were diapers, sick, and clean.
After the ladies stopped screaming, the children immediately became distressed. They all started crying, fighting over toys, and acting out. I have no doubt in my mind that the children picked up on the tension in the room.
For the rest of the morning, we battled getting the children fed, cleaned up, and ready for bed. They screamed, cried, and seemed unsettled. All I did was say Father's name under my breath over and over asking Him to bring us His peace.
When all the children were put in their cribs and it was time for us volunteers to go, I gently put my hand on each worker. I looked them in the eye individually and asked them if it had been a hard day. They nodded yes. I went on to tell them that they were doing a great job with the children, and I know it was a difficult day for all of us. They didn't know how to take the encouragement- they almost laughed it off. (I later asked one of my friends who's lived here for 9 years about this and she said in this culture, you generally don't tell workers they are doing a good job.)
Well, I have no doubt in my mind that even though they are not supposed to be encouraged, I'm sure deep down inside they crave it, and need it.
When we walked out the door they smiled brightly and asked us to please come again soon. That's what I like to hear :)
About two days later I started to feel faint and tired. As the day wore on I felt more and more sick. By evening I was feverish. Today is Valentine's Day and I am still sick to my stomach and achy. But do I regret holding my little angels in the orphanage who were sick? Absolutely not. I can't imagine how a small toddler feels when they are sick and have no one to cuddle them and rock them to sleep. Here I sit in a warm snuggly house with a husband to wait on me hand and foot, and a beautiful little girl who brings me blankets and tissues when I need them.
I'd hold a sick orphan any day. It was absolutely worth it.
*Note: This picture was taken at the disabilities orphanage, not the baby house. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to take pictures of the babies.