smiling from his crib

There are two orphanages we work with in Beira. The first is the baby orphanage, where infants are left and are able to stay until age 7. From there, they are transitioned into the government orphanage, where they are placed in school and are able to stay until age 18. This system is currently under review.

pick me up, take me home

The baby orphanage is privately funded and has many families who drop off their little ones during the week and then pick them up during the weekend. I am not sure why this occurs, but I can guess it has something to do with the fact that the children are very well cared for in the orphanage and unemployment in Moz is currently at about 85%. Families are really struggling to just get by, and having one less mouth to feed during the week makes life a bit easier.

as cute as Moz orphans come

The baby orphanage is right by the ocean and is a beautiful facility. The children are well cared for and while there aren’t enough hands to hold them all, these kids are receiving great care in comparison to what their lives would be like in the rural villages without regular meals. Nonetheless, there are 80-plus kids in one facility with about a dozen workers. Laundry is always piled high. There are always noses and bottoms that need wiping, hungry mouths, crying eyes and laughter. It is a cacophony of craziness, especially because the children have become accustomed to foreigners showing up occasionally. They immediately greeted us at the fence by climbing all over us, playing with our cameras, stroking our hair, holding our hands and clinging to our limbs. It was amazing, wonderful and heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave. I truly wish I could have taken them all home with me.

just right

I think the greatest day of my life will be when I go into one of these facilities and come out with a child of my own. One day.

bag delivered

After dropping off the 100 knit baby caps Kathy created, we headed off to the the older orphanage, where the goody bags were headed. (The luggage arrived in the meantime.) ASEM, the older child orphanage, is “phasing out” orphans. I couldn’t get to the bottom of this, but essentially the government is trying furiously to place children with extended families and get them out of the orphanages. I’m not sure what the motivation is, but I am certain that if it were that easy there never would have been a need for orphanages in the first place. Mozambicans get the importance of family and could teach a thing or two to other cultures about the importance of sharing and taking care of each other. Sending a family member to an orphanage is a disgrace and shame, not something any family in any country wants. It made me wince at the thought of these kids — who obviously cannot be cared for by extended family — being “returned,” as if they were frivolous purchases with a yellow Nordstrom sticker on their clothing.

the word is out and they came running

Regardless, when the orphanage director heard we’d brought gifts for the kids, he was thrilled. He helped us line up all the children (who came running in droves) and one by one, they each received a baggie.

swarmed

They were thrilled! You could tell these were kids who may have never owned a single new item and they were jumping for joy when they received these. We were also able to give the director an additional 100 baggies to hold for children who have already been “reintegrated.”

mass hysteria
so happy with his gift
Cheering at getting his baggie
Anita and me, handing out baggies

Thank you again for your help with this project. The blogging response was met with equal enthusiasm by welcoming, curious hands in Mozambique. You’ve made an orphanage very, very happy and I know these children feel loved. For that, I am forever thankful.

another happy recipient
me with boy, handing out bags

~Kelli