||February 28th, 2008|
This is one of an occasional series of columns from Desiree,
serving an orphanage in the Republic of Uzbekistan, (formerly part of the USSR).
Surely it's been said before, but leaving is not easy (even when you're going some place good). The emotions have a force of their own and overpower as the memories of past departures are compounded. Plus the new realization, with Igor's passing and others being kicked out, that who you leave behind may not be there upon your return. Even as we were packing our bags, the phone rang informing me that one of the workers at the Q, who I had just spent minimal time with yesterday, died of a massive coronary within hours of my leaving the Q. My heart sank further, not only for her, but as I thought of the kids who were present and witnessed the tragedy. She was one of the more caring helpers. Tears flow in abundance.
Yet promises were also abundant. Umida's cat gave birth Thursday night and the miracle of that coupled with U's excitement (and disgust) were great gifts. She, of course, was sad to leave the kittens, but she is also excited about seeing them again upon our return. She has also made a new friend, who is a local neighbor girl. They sat around for hours just staring at the kittens and jabbering girl talk.
This week, I was also able to provide, for a few of my Q-kids, some special "tvorak" (like cottage cheese rolls compressed and coated in a light layer of chocolate). The quantity wasn't all that much, but the openess of being able to feed it to them was a welcome sign in an ongoing battle. The kids who ate it, were instantly positively responsive to something that had taste, beyond the usual gruel.
In all fairness, the dietary standards of the Q are where they should be, if one audits it on paper. The sad reality is the kids are not only not getting enough nutrition, but they are not getting enough food. Their bellies are empty. Their hunger drives them to eating off the floor and stealing food from the more vulnerable; the kids who have a disability such that they are easily targeted for thievery from their feeble hands and sometimes even straight from their mouths. Yesterday, they even started eating the crayons and weren't deterred by the bitter taste or waxy chunks lodged in their teeth and gums.
One of the girls I am working with is starting to use her mouth to hold a marker and she is attempting to color. The joy of seeing her do this is glorious. When I first offered her the idea of putting the pen in her mouth, she looked at me, opening wide her big green eyes and raising her eyebrows as if saying, "You're crazy!" I coaxed her into it, demonstrating myself first, while making happy noises like "MMMMM" and "AHHHHH". Her curoisity took control and after a few attempts, she got the hang of it. Her arms are imprisoned by Cerebral Palsy, but she does have fairly good control of her feet - not her legs. She's so bright!
Unfortunately, she is one of twenty-two children slated to leave the Q within the next month for transfer to the next institution. I am thankful for any time I have with these kids, but again departures are never easy, especially when you're not going to a better place.
sponsored by Uzbekistan and Humanity, Inc
(in partnership with People International - www.GoPeople.org)
All contributions can be sent to:
Uzbekistan & Humanity Inc
Mission Viejo, CA 92690-4224