Today we realised that Mulago is actually not too bad at all... Compared to some other areas of the city!
We went out to an orphanage run by the Missionaries of the Poor. It was shocking and heartbreaking but so pleasant and heart warming at the same time!
The orphanage caters for children of all ages up to 14-15 yrs, mostly girls. It also provides care for disabled children and adults! some of whom are severely disabled, including conditions like cerebral palsy, congenital deformities, amputees etc.
The orphanage is located in a slum, but the first thing which struck us on arrival was how pretty and lively the building looked! all the walls are painted in bright colours, with animals and Disney characters drawn over every single wall- really stimulating for the children! Brother Horatius told us they were drawn by a friend, who is clearly very talented!! Brother Horatius is a young Haiitian chap who runs the orphanage. After a very warm welcome he took us for a tour around the orphanage... a really eye opening experience.
Several children with obvious physical/mental disabilities were sat in the yard, observing all the Muzungi around them and enjoying the the bubbles we were all blowing at them (provided by one of the American volunteers in our group) Most of all they seemed to enjoy and appreciate any form of human touch- from holding their hands to caressing their faces. It always strikes me how much these people must lack physical contact with other humans... They have no one to cuddle them or play with them and this must be like a big highlight in their lives! Just think of the times when you're down, lonely etc and long from a hug from someone- this is how these children/adults must feel all the time! Sad isn't it?
Another fairly impressive sight was a row of 4 or 5 children strapped in a line to some kind of whole body frames. Brother Horatio told us they were children with cerebral palsy who every morning are seen by physiotherapists for exercises and then strapped to the frames with the intention of straightening their contractures and enabling them to walk when they're older! We all looked pretty sceptical but Brother assured us he had seen a child who was having this therapy a few yrs ago and is now walking!
Next on our tour were the dormitories, which looked very tidy, again all painted in nice colours and animals (couldn't help asking Priyanka to pose beneath an arrow sign painted on the wall (next to a cow) saying 'THIS IS A COW' ! Cheeky!!! Had a similar shot myself and felt quite please when Mandy assured us we looked nothing like cows! THanks Mandy! ;))
The Kitchen was even more impressive! 2 huge pots stood at the side of the room, each around a metre in diameter! One was full of soup and the other with some kind of mushy rice! It wasn't difficult to understand the huge dimensions- Brother had already told us that they get over 600 children to feed from the school next door at lunchtime!!
Next on tour was the clinic. ( By this time Priyanka had adopted a cute little 2 year old dressed in a starched white frock and fancy shoes, who wouldn't let go of her!! Quite impressed by the sign on the clinic entrance which read 'IMMUNISATION EVERY THURSDAY'! Inside was a clinician and a whole stock of medicines and supplies, including bedside malaria testing kits.
Our tour ended with a tour of the school, a few metres away. Pretty impressive to see around 30 kids in one class, chanting along to the teacher's prompts of 'legs', 'haiiir' etc. The older kids were even smarter- they knew about Canada, the weather there and snow! :)
I spotted a sweet albino girl but was extremely shocked to learn that in this country albinos are usually sold to witch doctors for body parts to experiment on!!!! In 2013?!?!
On returning back to the orphanage it was time to hand out all our little gifts to Brother Horatio- spanning from a vast collection of barely used children's shoes, which Mandy collected from children's schools, sport kits in fancy luggages which the Americans brought along and colouring books, pencils etc which Priyanka put together nicely with sweets. He was really appreciative!
Didn't really do much to help out there but we were all inspired to do some kind of fund raising/collections once back home, which we are planning to ship over to the orphanage in the near future...
If you were also touched and would be interested in helping out in our little mission, more details about how you can do this will follow later...