Sunday, August 5, 2012

A trip to the orphanage

Marshall heard from another person working in Uganda that there was an orphanage called Malayaka House that sold pizza as a fundraiser.   Being the pizza lover that he is, he had to check it out!  He's been going back ever since, and added them to his charitable efforts, in addition to the school.  Malayaka House is one of the more organized and supported orphanages.  They have volunteers that come and live there for 6 months at a time.  At the moment most of the volunteers living there are from Spain.  It also has running water and electricity, which not every house has.

When I asked the woman in charge if any of the children there had been adopted, she looked at me like I had two heads.  She said that there is likely no chance that these kids will be adopted because no one really knows about them, and the Ugandan government doesn't make it easy.  (However, when I told Marshall's driver this, he shook his head and said if I wanted to adopt a Ugandan baby that it would be easy for me.....just have to show them the money!).  The Spanish woman said that Uganda doesn't have an adoption agreement with Spain, so even if she wanted to adopt one of the children, she couldn't.  But she said the USA does allow Ugandan adoptions, but often it takes so long, and requires so much bureaucracy that it doesn't happen.  In her opinion these kids will grow up here, and finish school, and eventually get jobs and move out.  But they are supported by Malayaka House until that happens.  I was glad to hear that they aren't put out on the street the moment they turn 16.  Many of them have sponsors who pay their school fees so that they can attend school.  I have to admit that I did sit there and wonder what it would be like to live there for 6 months taking care of the children.  Maybe in my next life....

Orphanages in Uganda are not as organized or regulated as one might expect.  Often they arise from someone in the community just taking in children, and relying on the kindness of others to donate things they need.  One morning while I was reading the local newspaper, I found a column that featured lost children who had been found or abandoned.  It showed about 10 kids, had a picture of each, what their name was, where they had been found, and who was taking care of them if the family member wanted to come and collect them.  Some of the children had just been taken to the market by a family member, and given a little bundle of clothes or food, and then abandoned.  It was sad.  I was amazed that there were enough lost children to be featured in the paper, but also amazed that they would put their location in the paper, where any random stranger could come and get them.

I only took one picture of the children here, and it is while they were eating.  I was busy handing out toys that we had brought, and playing with them.  The kids followed me, a few of them wanted to hold my hand, or hug me!  They all called me "Auntie", which is what they call any woman who comes there.  Most of them did not have shoes on, and they were reasonably clean, although their clothes were not in great shape.

Sorry- not a great picture!  It was dark in the room where they eat.  After they eat, they put the kids to bed, and the pizza restaurant opens.

From their pizza menu:

This is their front yard- there is an AMAZING (and Mama-anxiety-causing) tree house!

The main building of the orphanage has a water collection system on the roof.

It dumps the water into a trough down here

Another building in the back.  The red door is the bathroom with a toilet, but from what I could tell that is only for guests.  It seems the children use an outhouse.

This is the pizza hut where they cook all their pizzas with only ONE oven!  Some of the people working with Marshall have raised enough money to buy them another oven so they can make more pizzas (and faster!).  I brought them a bunch of pizza cutters in my luggage.

The dough is rising, and the beer is cooling!  They also make their own mozzarella.

Isn't this awesome!?  This is where they serve the pizzas!  By the time we left that night this whole area was filled with people eating pizzas.

They have a garden around the side of the building.  You can barely see it, but there are plank walkways that you have to balance on to walk around.

They also have a few pigs.

Inside the house I only wanted to take a few pictures, because I didn't want to invade the children's privacy.  This is where their clothes are kept.  Each kid has their own cubby, and their own clothes.  Many of them only have a few things to wear, and the clothes we did see them wearing were very worn out and old.  I brought more clothes down in my luggage.

One of the sleeping rooms.  The mattresses are pulled up to keep the house dogs off the beds.

Something that is really great, is that since the American contractors and workers have started supporting Malayaka House, they have found other orphanages in the area that are also in need of help.  Sometimes it is basics like food, and sometimes they are behind on paying their electric bill, and will have their power cut off.  So, other people working with Marshall have started to organize to help these other kids out.  My biggest hope is that the Americans who are working there in Uganda will make a positive and lasting impression on the area.   If they can leave Entebbe a better place than it was when they got there, then I would say the mission was successful.

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