18 May 2009

Life is Big

Life is Big (Friday)

I felt a lot better Friday. I think I got over my sickness completely.

Harvest Children’s Home (the orphanage) is a neat place. I’ll try to paint the best picture of it I can, but no words, no pictures, nothing except being here and experiencing it, will do it justice.

The temperature is usually between 60 and 80 degrees. Beautiful.

The orphanage is a “U” shape. One side of the “U” is a small building with guest rooms, a lecture room, and the clinic. The “bottom of the U” is where the children stay. There are 4 rooms (one for each combination of young and old and boys and girls). There are about 20 bunk beds in each room. The last side of the “U” is a guest house (where we stay), kitchen, and the kid’s dining hall. The kids’ bathroom is off to the side of the guest house.

Behind the guest house/dining hall is a huge field. From the field you can see the primary school that the younger children attend. The field has a path to walk around it (that I often slip on when walking around…) and a football/handball goal on each end. Looking out on the field is beauty. There are mountains in the distance. You can see for miles and miles. One of my favorite things is to watch thunderstorms moving across the mountains on the other side of the field.

Each of the buildings at the orphanage has a porch made of cement with a roof. There is a trench around the porches for water/trash. The courtyard (in the middle of the U shaped buildings) is mostly packed dirt with markings all over it for hop scotch and “elah” and mankala. There are 3 swings that are in the process of being repaired on one side.

The children at the orphanage just run around and play games. There are usually some swinging on the swings and some playing hop scotch with rocks. Others sit around talking and hanging out with Justin and I. It is always loud and happy.

Occasionally, one of the kids will put a music video on the TV in the dining hall. The kids love to dance around to the music on the videos.

The clinic is about the size of a small bathroom or a walk in closet. It took three of us (Justin, Emelda, and I) an entire afternoon to take all of the children’s BMI and Blood Pressure. (Emelda is a staff nurse who is at the clinic a few times a week)

BMI is calculated by taking the child’s weight and dividing that by the child’s height squared. A “healthy” BMI for American children is between 18 and 25. Out of 63 children, 42 were underweight.

TWO THIRDS of the children here are not at a sufficient weight to be healthy!

Even more frightening are the six that have such a low BMI, they shouldn’t be able to function. But they do! Some of these children are remarkable!

I got to practice taking BP on the children. It is hard to get a child, let alone a child who doesn’t understand you, to stand still enough to have a machine read their blood pressure! I had to read about 15 of them manually because they were either moving around too much for the machine or had arms that were too small to use the machine!

Some of the children are SO small! (Less than 15 Kg!)

This week Justin, Dale (A team member who is an RN), and I are assessing some of the health problems the children have.

My descriptions are inadequate to describe everything here. There is so much that I can’t express in words. I hope that what I have written allows you a small glimpse of what goes on here!


  1. Mankala?! I love Mancala! Same game, I wonder? "...they shouldn’t be able to function. But they do!" Amazing. This must be bittersweet to see. Praying for you, dear, and for the precious children.

  2. P.S. Those thunderstorms sound magical.