(You say, "Nzuri.")
That means (basically), "Hi, how are you?" and "Good."
My Swahili is slowly coming along. I am determined to learn it before I leave. A couple nights a week, after my baby home shifts, I have been talking to our night guard. He knows a good amount of English, so he is helping me learn. He even bought me a book! Unfortunately, I've been working so much I haven't had time to study...despite him asking me about once an hour if I have looked at the book. He's so funny. One of the first things he taught me was how to say "Homey-G" in Swahili. Now, every time I see him we do some fist pounds/knuckles followed by a "Whatz up Mushgwia." (or something like that). He thinks it's the funniest thing ever.
The babies at the baby home are SO adorable you guys. I can't even say it enough. There are 55 now, so it's much more chaotic than it was the last time I was here. The kids have also become more aggressive with each other, which makes me sad. I feel like I am constantly pulling them off each other, giving time-outs, or consoling a child who has just been bitten or pushed down. Sadly, the babies are much more starved for attention than they used to be. There is never a moment when I don't have less than four babies on my lap or in my arms at a time, and then when a fifth child crawls over, the four on my lap start crying and hitting the fifth to get him away from a potential hug or spot on my lap I might offer.
There are lots of sick babies too. Funny/sad story, the other night I was feeding one of our tiniest babies Oral Hydration Solution as she is extremely malnourished. Her name is Nora. She is 10 months old and weighs ten pounds. She is the size of a newborn. She is probably THE most beautiful baby I have ever seen. You have to look at her pictures on the baby home website. She is absolutely stunning...but so tiny. She can sit up, but can't crawl or anything because she just doesn't have the strength. Anyways, I was feeding her her ORS right after dinner time and she puked EVERYWHERE. I don't even know how that much stuff fit in her in the first place (which is probably why she puked). It was all over her and me and the floor. Try to imagine all the puke, me stuck on the floor trying to make sure she doesn't choke, and then now about six babies all start crawling over to put their hands in it. I was pushing them away with my legs (my arms were covered in barf). I called for another volunteer to come help me. We got most of the other babies away in time, but a few more had it on them too. We eventually got them all cleaned up and the floor sanitized. Just as I was walking back to the "big baby" room, I hear another volunteer call for help from the toddler room. I go in and one of our newly potty-trained little ones had a major pee and diarrhea accident all over the floor, and about five toddlers all had their hands in it! Again, I used my arms, legs, head, everything, to keep others out of it and raaaan to the bathroom to get cleaning solution. AHHH! I also want to mention that this all happened right after bath time, so we had to re-bathe about ten babies that night.
The next night we had three babies projectile vomit all over the place again. Same story, different day. :) So yes, lots of puke, lots of poo, lots of cleaning up. The sad part is that these babies are sick. They have fevers and need extra love and cuddles, but there simply aren't enough hands to give them that. I try to give them the love they need, but it's just so hard when there are so many of them. :( However, I must admit, holding sick, sleepy babies makes my heart melt. I could do that all day, every day for the rest of my life. I love these kids so much it's hard to explain.
On a quick, other note, I caught one of the nannies wincing in pain two nights ago. She was cleaning up the toddler room, and fell over holding her side. I ran to her and helped her out of the chaos that is night time, bath time. I immediately thought, kidney stone or appendicitis. That's the kind of pain she was in. The manager of the baby home gave her "advil." I told her it was more than that and thougth she should go to the hospital. I called Amy and she told me to put her in a taxi and send her to the hospital for a malaria test. Well, there was no way this girl (20years old) was going to make it anywhere by herself in that much pain. So, another volunteer and I called a taxi and took her to the hospital she normally goes to.
To make a long story short, it cost 2000 shillings for her to see a doctor. She only makes 3000/day (about $3). The other volunteer and I paid for it. The doctor then saw her, did not tell her what was wrong, but told her she needed to stay overnight and "have an injection." He also did not tell her what that injection would be. We were sent back to the "check-in desk" where they then told us that it was going to cost her 75,000 for her to be treated. Um, what?! There was no way she (or anyone else in Tanzania) could afford that! She told us that it was because they saw her with us, two mzungus (white people). I would have just paid the $75, but I knew they were totally ripping her off (and I didn't have that much money on me). So we just went home! I have had a lot of kidney issues in my life and I couldn't imagine just going home. IF IT EVEN WAS A KIDNEY ISSUE...which I don't think it was any more because she said it didn't hurt when I poked her back. (Yes, I know, I'm not a doctor, but I'm beginning to think I'm the most highly qualified in this area here!). Anyways, apparently she went to another hospital that night where they gave her an injection of she doesn't know what for a diagnosis that they also failed to tell her. She didn't improve and went to another doctor the next morning, and then didn't go to work. I'm really worried about her. She is really sick. It just breaks my heart thinking that if you can't afford medical care here, you die...LITERALLY. It also killed me that they were going to charge her so much because she was with us and then they wouldn't budge with the price when we argued. UGH! We thought we were doing a good thing by taking her to the hospital, but we only made it worse. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Her name is Imma.
She is the sweetest girl. She remembered me from last time I was here and invited me to her house for dinner and to meet her daughter. Imma was an orphan herself and was living in the Bethany Home which is the teens program ran by Forever Angels. I went to her house and she was so welcoming. Her living room is smaller than my bathroom was in my apartment in LA. She lives there with her boyfriend, 2 year old daughter, and another woman and her daughter. There is no running water or electricity, but she is sooo proud of it. For dinner, she peeled and cut-up oranges and then made about 20 or 30 bites of steak for the whole group of us. She also made this really good salsa stuff that you dip the steak in. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about eating the meat, but she was so proud that I didn't care if it gave me diaoreah forever, I was going to eat it. (It didn't and I'm fine). :)
Anyways, there is so much more to tell. I have LOTS more baby stories that I will try to write about next week when I come to the internet again.
Sending my love from Africa!!!
P.S. The internet is so bad here that I just type and then submit, so I apologize for the jumbled mess I have made of my blog entries. I can't spell check and don't have time to edit, so it is what it is. :) Muah!
Oh, and I got invited to a wedding in September! So excited! I am definitely going to explore Africa more this time.