First day with the kiddies!

Today was my first day at the childrens convalescent home. We were thrown right into the daily routine without any instruction. I was handed one infant after another after another to feed them their morning porrige. The nurses would instruct us to, "feed number 26 next," or "#7 needs a bottle." The children have names and numbers above their cribs to make it easy to give them their medicine throughout the day. Most of them are infected with AIDS and TB. We do not know who has what and honestly, it doesn't matter. My job is to provide as many smiles as possible.

Going from working in an American daycare to a South African home is a huge change. There are no gloves or masks around. They cannot afford diapers, or anything disposable for that matter, so the babies wear towels that are pinned or clipped on with little shorts over them. There were about 5 toys in total.

Because of the circumstances the babies are in, they don't get very much stimulation throughout the day, so most are developmentaly delayed. Today I held a 1 year old girl who couldn't have weighed over 8 lbs. (My brother and sister weighed more than that at birth!) Her limbs are very tiny and she cannot hold herself up on her hands while on her belly.

For most of the morning myself, Annah and Josette put the babies on a small mat on the floor and did our best to talk, sing dance, move their arms and legs...anything to stimulate them. There was one point when we had 9 infants between the 3 of us! The sad part was, it wasn't difficult to keep it under control because most of the children don't move around much without help. We have one little boy who's trying to walk and is so proud of himself. :) Smiles all day....

We couldn't bring the babies outside for fresh air today because it's around 97 degrees. After leaving the hospital, we came back to the homebase to share stories about our placements. I have friends in refugee centers, orphanages, health clinics, nursing homes, and homes for children who have been involved in war. The stories are pretty incredible.

My first language lesson is this evening. I've decided to take Africaans because most of the people at Sara Fox speak it. I'd love to learn Xhosa because the clicking sounds so cool. Owell!