Hello! This is my very first post on this blog. I’m leaving for Zambia on Tuesday, May 15 (the day after tomorrow!) and will be working in an orphanage called the Haven. This is my third time to visit the Haven; I went with my graduate school for six weeks each the first two times, and now I am traveling independently for 10 weeks. If you have not yet seen the 10-minute documentary filmed last year, I would encourage you to take the time to watch it. I think it was beautifully done and does an excellent job describing the work of the Harding in Zambia Speech-Language Pathology (HIZ-Path) program, and it contains lots of footage of the sweet babies who have stolen my heart, which is enough to make me want to watch it over and over again.
For those who don’t know, there are four houses for orphans on site. Haven 1 is the home for infants. Once babies start walking, they are usually moved to Haven 2. Haven 3 houses the sick babies of all ages – those with HIV, TB, failure to thrive, etc. If medical treatments are successful, these babies can “graduate” to Haven 1 or 2. There is also a home, called Eric’s House, for older children, primarily boys.
Generally children stay at the orphanage until they are around 4 years old. Some leave sooner, some later. At this point, the children either return to their families or are adopted by Zambian families. Many of the children at the orphanage are not “true orphans”, meaning that at least one parent is still alive but unable to care for the children. For some, the mother has died, and the families can’t afford formula, so the babies go to the orphanage until they are old enough to help with chores at home or until their families are more financially stable and can care for the children. For others, the parents are physically or mentally ill. The children who are true orphans, or whose families will not take them back, are usually adopted by other Zambian families, but some remain at Eric’s House. Others at Eric’s House did not live in the Havens as infants or toddlers, but are street children with nowhere else to go. Here are a few pictures of the facilities:
My goal for this year is to *try* to update my blog at least twice a week. Last year I used this blog, but only updated seven times in six weeks. The electricity doesn’t always work; internet time is limited, and the internet is very slow (even slower than the old dial-up connections); life there is busy; and sometimes I’m just plain lazy. My posts may be short, and I may not always have a good enough connection to post as many pictures as I’d like, but I will sincerely make an effort to keep up with blogging and to reply to questions and comments as much as I can.
I would like take a moment to thank my family and friends for prayers, encouragement, and monetary donations for my trip. I truly have been amazed by your generosity and love. There are no words to describe how loved and blessed I feel, and I know the babies would thank you as well for helping to provide clean diapers, food, and life-saving medicines for them. I wish there was something I could say or do to properly express my gratitude, but a simple “thank you” will have to suffice for now.