"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
As hard as they try, the children at the orphanage cannot prevent extreme wear and tear on their few belongings. Between the dirt floor that is just outside their dorm (mud when it rains), bare feet, no running water (bore-hole well only) and a variety of nearby goats, pigs, chickens and cows, things just get dirty and worn out.
Especially clothing and bedding.
Three years ago, thanks to the generosity of a concerned donor, CTT was able to replace all the mattresses, sheets and blankets at SMK. It was an exciting day for the children. You see, their beds are their “homes” within the dorm. At the foot of their bed is a metal case that houses all of their belongings (clothes, books, letters, shoes, soap). Once they snuggle up under their mosquito net, they are surrounded by everything they own. We wanted to make that place as nice as it could be.
[You have to understand that the mattresses of which I speak are not Posturepedics. Not even close. They are made of foam and are about four inches thick. The children try their best to care for the mattress, but it is difficult, especially if he/she is a bed-wetter. Even if a sheet of plastic is placed on top of the foam, the bed eventually becomes, well, for lack of a better word, a mess. It gets dirty and smelly, and parts of the foam break off. The sheets and thin blanket are not washed very often; you can imagine the accumulation of debris that is collected there.]
CTT replaces a percentage of the bedding each year now. Melissa walks through the dorms to determine whose mattress, sheet and/or blanket (and mosquito net) cannot be stretched another twelve months.
This year we purchased (thanks again to the donor who set this all in motion in 2008) about 70 new mattresses and sheets, as well as many new mosquito nets.
Many of the children, hoping for a new set, removed their bedding the morning the team was set to bring in the new goodies. It was simply their way of saying, “Please, I need a new mattress and sheet. Believe me when I tell you my old one is tired and worn.”
This created quite a nightmare for us, because suddenly we weren’t sure where the new bedding was supposed to go! As much as we would have liked to replace them all, we had only allowed for replacement of the absolute worst. And there we stood, looking at dorms full of bare bunk beds.
The matrons of each dorm finally got it all figured out, and after some delay, we were able to install the new bedding. (Huge thanks go to the older girls who assisted us in this project.) The new sheets looked so beautiful and fresh. The mattresses felt soft and smelled clean.
I congratulated many of the children whose bedding was in good shape, though it was clear they were sad not to receive a new set.
It takes a lot of work to maintain your own things when you’re just a child.