"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Thursday, September 20, 2012

day four

This day has been full, to say the least. I once again rose before the sun did and was at the orphanage very early. The children are up at 5 or 6 and are already well into doing their chores when the sun slips above the horizon. Being there early gives me a good chunk of time to be with and photograph them. They are in school all day long. (They get two one hour breaks; otherwise, they are in their seats in the classroom until 5:00. That's when they wash their clothes and get ready for dinner.) It's a very long day.

Just before lunch, a group of young boys carried one of their friends over to Melissa's, came inside and asked me to help. Their friend, Wasswa, was very ill. He was too weak to walk, could barely talk, was burning hot and was having trouble breathing. His lungs rattled with each painful intake of air. The boys had doused Wasswa in water to cool him off. They were clearly very worried.

We called upon Nurse Douglas, who arrived an hour or so later. One listen to Wasswa's chest, and Douglas quickly diagnosed the problem as pneumonia. Wasswa had a healthy fever, and his blood pressure was low. Douglas felt he should go to a clinic for a chest X-Ray. Turns out the diagnosis was correct (with an additional mild case of malaria) so Wasswa (who is all of nine or ten years old) is now in the hospital. His big sister (who is maybe 12) is the one who is keeping vigil at the hospital and helping provide care. She, her best friend and the boys who brought Wasswa to me for help have all acted like caring adults throughout the episode. These kids - who don't have parents to watch over them - just automatically care for one another. It takes my breath away to see young kids assume the responsibility and heartache that is supposed to belong to adults, and they do this without hesitation.

After a lengthy meeting with SMK administration, I stole a little more time with the children when school let out. After washing their clothes, they actually got time to play!

Just as it began to get dark, they lined up for dinner. I can't wait to see them again tomorrow.

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