Last night was a sleepless night. I woke up a thousand times sometimes wondering where I was, being hot and sticky and wrapped up in my mosquito net like the Bug that I am. My alarm sounded too soon, and when I looked at the time it said 6:47am (shift starts at 6:30!) In my tired confusion I tried to understand why the time didn't sound right, why I hadn't heard the other volunteers getting up, the gate open or close, and I sat up and asked Ciara,
"What time does your phone say on it right now?"
"Jamani!" (means "oh my goodness" in swahili)
So I woke up 20 minutes late for shift and only arrived to the Tiny Baby House 27 minutes late. I realized the kids had pressed all the right buttons on my watch the day before for my day to start an hour later than it was supposed to. I thought I would get a formal warning and that "oh, I could get fired" feeling lingered on the back of my neck as I stepped in the door. They greeted me the same and didn't mind that I was tardy at all and I realized there isn't much they can actually do if a volunteer is late (send me home?!) but I still felt really guilty and mentally scolded myself until the second I stepped into the room where eleven tiny babies rubbed their sleepy eyes and cooed in their feety pajamas. Aw, Heaven!
I did miss out a bit because normally I get there and get to bathe all of them which is a treat that pulls at the heart strings. Instead, Mammas Adelina and Nema took turns picking up the crying/stinky ones and bringing me back clean, glassey-eyes angels in bright outfits.
Before I knew it they were ready for more food and I sat feeding three listening to Brian coo as Briton clearly enunciated "Dada, Dada, Dadaaaaa!" (meaning "sister") and was excited to note that November 9th Briton spoke his first word! in his lifebook. All the nappies today were "dirty" but none showing signs of illness or discomfort for the babies which is always a good thing. Some of the tiny babies are so tiny that the first signs they can't keep their fluids in we must report it to the managers, and therefore worry, until the nappies are normal and fevers subside.
Joseph, Joshua, and Josephine are the trouble makers of the group and today was no exception, but they were whisked into kangas as soon as the high pitched screaming began and no amount of silly play or funny facial expressions could soothe them. I walked around showing Maua the world outside through the window and thought how lucky I was so be holding such an adorable little thing, and have another one squeaking at me on my back! It makes me so happy in the moment, yet so sad that this situation will probably never occur in my life again after December 4th (the day I fly home). I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and smelled their sweet baby smells until a familiar voice brought me back from wishful dreaming.
Ciara came in with Angel to let me know she was being taken home today, as she's been adopted, and I needed to give a few last kisses and say goodbye. Angel is a baby who is constantly trying to get your attention, and I was so happy thinking she will finally receive the full attention and love that she deserves. What a lucky little girl to have been taken care of so well at Forever Angels and now to be going to live with a Mamma and Baba. I was hesitant saying goodbye, but so glad to see that once again the purpose of this organization is being fulfilled.
I went back into the room and fed and played and laughed just as hard as the babies did. Hannah came in to visit and ask what time I got to shift and I felt bad admitting I was late but just like anything else in Tanzania you laugh it off and go on with it. She casually reminded me how much I'd kill for a milkshake and then went back out to help with the Toddlers in the main baby home. Johanna came in a few minutes later and we sat with Ashley (a special needs baby) and he managed to sit unattended for almost five minutes! What a milestone!
I couldn't believe the time had gone by so fast when Izzy walked in to take over for me. I sat an extra couple of minutes to play with Kasigwa. She had gotten here only a few days before I did and I still can't believe how much she's grown and changed in such a short time. Picking her up before, it was hard to tell there was a baby in the blanket at all and changing her was so scary with legs so fragile and only about as thick as a quarter! Now she's what I call a "real baby" meaning she moves and cries and is chubby! :) I was having a conversation with her about how thankful we both are to be sharing this day, and my heart sank a little bit more.
I managed to clean all their ears before I left today, which was totally gross but someone's gotta do it! I found out that San Luis Obispo, CA was ranked the 2nd happiest city in the WORLD, I caught onto some more swahili (the level I am at still is shameful), and went to the kitchen to collect my lunch. The chipati and cabbage was without ants today! Hooray!
I walked out of the baby home feeling happy as usual and looked to the garden to say hello and goodbye to the kids and tried to find Ciara. I waved at Alice, said hello to Zawadi, Davie, and Maggie, and still couldn't find Ciara anywhere! Then, sitting right in front of me behind the gates on top of the blue gym mats was a small pile of giggles and underneath was my Big Sister, looking smaller than ever under a heap of about eight wiggly black bodies. She waved at me with a tilt of her head and smiled as if to say "Doesn't get any better than this." The kids are happy, well fed, and in good hands. Another baby was taken to a permanent home today!
I get home and eat what I now call Deja Vu-Chipati and Cabbage and wonder how this day could have been more of a success: More kisses given? Not possible. Smiles received to par? Yes, but I am always striving for more. Learn any Swahili? Yes...No, because I can't remember now what it was Neema said. Then I looked on the counter in the kitchen and realized Johanna and Ramona left me the remaining Chicken Curry from their lunch at Tilapia. Score! And I get to spend the rest of the afternoon with my fellow Americans Hannah and Melissa. Bonus! AND Johanna decided to make the entire vol house lasagna for dinner tonight. !!!!
Maybe I'm still dreaming and November 9th hasn't actually come yet, but either way its time to share and remember. Yet another Perfect Today.
Love with a heavy heart,