|Me, in my natural orphanage environment: covered in a pile of infants.|
There is an orphanage in Leogane where I sometimes like to go on the weekends. As far as orphanages in Haiti go, it is pretty spectacular. They had more formal buildings before the earthquake but lost them all (but saved all of the children). Now the kids are in plywood dorms. There are girls and boys dorms for each age group, in addition to a special needs room. Children range in age from 1 month to 18 years old. They recently combined with another orphanage (hence the double name) where the children were fed 1 or 2 times a day, slept 8 or 9 to a bed, and didn’t go to school. So what makes OLTCH so spectacular? Each child has a bed and three meals a day, for starters. They go to school (and are getting good grades!). The staff is generally caring and not in it for the money. These are not standards maintained by approximately 80% orphanages in Haiti. There are still problems: there aren’t enough toys, there aren’t enough role models, there aren’t enough people to pick up all the babies. But the kids are alive, fed, clean, and loved.
|The baby house|
Many of these children still have parents but the parents do not have the means to support them. I cannot even imagine having to make the decision to give up my child so that they can have a better life than I could offer them. It tears me apart even though I know that, being an American, I would probably never be asked to make this decision.
|This is my little buddy. He is 4 months old and very serious, especially in his Polo shirt. His parents dropped him off when he was 2 days old.|
What strikes me about the orphanage every time I go is how normal it is. The kids run and play and enjoy themselves. They cause havoc and get in trouble and get really excited when someone will read them a book. They live a difficult life, but they are kids and they love bubbles and books and big bear hugs.
|A new game entitled "Let me see how close I can get my tongue to your camera lens"|
For more information and pictures, check out their website! http://oltch.org/