It was a rough day at the orphanage today.
1) One of our non medical staff was holding a 9 month old baby, and the caregiver came over to give him a bottle.
She made our staffperson place the baby flat on the floor for his feeding, while she held the bottle for him.
Why? She said, because if the baby got used to someone actually holding him while being fed, then he would cry the next time and would want to be held again.
And she had several other kids to take care of and was unable to hold him each time so that made it harder on everyone.
2) The resident examined and presented a kid to me that I had spotted last week as we were leaving, and who looked obviously underweight.
The little lady is 11 months old and weighs about 9 pounds.
She had surgery right after birth to repair a tracheo-esophageal fistula (where the esophagus does not connect with the stomach).
She is developmentally delayed, and can roll around on the floor but cannot sit or do anything beyond that, although she smiled wonderfully and made great eye contact with me.
The caregiver says she gets 8 oz of milk per day and 3 “meals.” Most of which she does not eat (I suspect related to her previous surgery).
But the staff does not have the time to work on getting more food into her.
And 2 bottles of 4 oz a day is what all 11 month olds get as a matter of routine, so that’s why she doesn’t get any more.
Never mind that she is the size of a 3 month old.
3) We asked the orphanage person in charge (the worst they can say is no, right?) if this was a child who could be temporarily fostered out as a special needs, extra nutrition situation.
I was told, no.
Because they need more kids.
Say WHAT? Yes, they need more kids.
Now they have a wonderful newly constructed orphanage (if you recall, opened on June 1 for Children’s Day with all the hotshots from the city coming out for the opening ceremony).
They have lots of empty rooms just waiting to be filled.
Oh, that one kid we have in foster care? They want her back, to improve their numbers.
Never mind that she is with a loving foster mother who is addressing her special needs.
And, by the way, the more children at the orphanage, the more money is donated from large companies in town and rich individuals (some of them the very parents of the children already living there).
Never mind items 1 and 2 above related to staffing issues.
Don’t ask why.
As a westerner, I will probably never fully understand the multiple layers of complexity surrounding any situation in society here.
It doesn’t help to ask why.
There’s only one answer.
The answer I hear nearly every time we have a discussion on these issues.