May 9, 2008 (Friday)
Friday morning we were abruptly woken up by the screeching halt of the train, and we attempted to quickly wake our bodies up so we could get back to our apartment as soon as possible, run to the restroom at the apartment and go straight to the orphanage to meet the kids. We were all a little tired and frazzled, but excited to finally meet them. It has taken them about a week and a half to approve our being there. We are going to officially start next Monday, but today we were going to meet them so we could decide which kids we felt most comfortable working with.
Before we were taken to the orphanage we were taken to two apartments where some of the higher functioning orphans were living. Apparently in an effort to provide a friendlier and more home induced atmosphere they are trying to put children in apartments in an effort to get them out of such an institutionalized setting. The first apartment we entered into we were greeted by a little girl named Ilena. She was absolutely delighted to see us, and she was full of energy. There were three other children living in the apartment – one little deaf boy, one little girl who was incredibly mellow, and the other child was gone somewhere. They were all about three or four years old. Each had a disability, but because we were only able to be there for about 15 minutes I wasn’t sure exactly what issues they had. Regardless they were absolutely adorable! All us girls just cuddled and played with them until we were quickly brisked off to the other apartment. We had to meet all the children in a short amount of time.
The next apartment had four children living in it as well, but three of them were gone at preschool so only one little Downs syndrome boy was there because he was not feeling well. He was probably about four years old and he was absolutely adorable. I sat next to him and played with a little teddy bear – it took a few minutes, but I quickly had him smiling…I took the teddy bear and made it creep up to him slowly and then I pressed it into his neck and he just giggled. Then he kept motioning for me to do it again…I knew immediately that was one of the apartments I wanted to work in. It’s amazing how fast you can love and attach to someone you barely even know.
After the apartments we were off to the orphanage. When I first entered the orphanage the walls were painted in light happy colors and there were different Disney characters painted on the glass window of every door. It was a little nicer than I had pictured in my mind which was a nice surprise. Then we were taken to several different rooms. Each room was filled with adorable children – some were higher functioning than others – but you could tell each needed to be loved equally. There are several main rooms we will have the opportunity to work in: the Mickey Mouse room, Bambi room and isolation or Donald Duck room. I can’t wait to work with them…
Although there were adorable children in every room, I think the room that hit me the hardest was the isolation room – or the room with the babies and children who were so low functioning they just laid there. There were several rooms in this area with cribs lining each inch of the wall. The first room I walked in contained several babies lying in their crib. There was one baby girl who I immediately fell in love with. She was probably about 6 months old and she was absolutely beautiful – she had short brown curly hair, and she desperately reached out for me to hold her. However, we aren’t allowed to hold the babies. Apparently the workers don’t like it when people hold them because they will keep crying when they are put down because they want to be held. It absolutely killed me. I wanted to hold her so badly, but I couldn’t. At least she was crying – that is actually a good sign. Some of the babies have been touched so little that they don’t cry anymore. Elisa said the only way to get to hold the babies is to become friends with the workers, so I just rubbed her arm and smiled at her… she kept reaching for me desperately. It was so hard. I wanted to comfort her and make her feel better but I couldn’t. It’s probably a good thing I’m not married because I would probably want to take the kids home with me. I wanted to take that little girl home with me so bad. It broke my heart, but there was nothing I could do.
Another little baby boy in the crib next to her had Downs syndrome and whenever you tickled his tummy he absolutely lit up. It’s amazing how much the children come to life when you touch them…they need touch so badly! I don’t understand why the workers won’t let us give them as much love as we can, but I can’t break the rules. It’s already so frustrating!
At the end of meeting the kids I was tired from the lack of sleep and a little overwhelmed with meeting the kids. I can already tell this is going to be emotionally draining to work with them, but I can’t wait to love them! I’m also excited to find out which room I get to work with. Although I would like to work in the isolation room, I wonder if I can handle not being able to hold the babies…We are going to tell Elisa and Mario (our Romanian supervisor) the top three rooms we would like to work in, and they are going to decide which room of children we will be working with each day. I can’t wait to get started on Monday!
Once we got home I took a shower, unpacked and took a nap. On my way down to withdraw money from the bank I slipped for the second time in one day on the stairs. It was a doozy. Falling is such a weird sensation – one second you are standing up and the next second you are on the floor. Anyways, the girls in my apartment quickly asked if I was okay and some guys walking by us also asked if they could help me. I fell flat on my back and hit a couple stairs on the way down. The stairs in our apartment building are so worn out that they are extremely slippery, and I guess my flip flops don’t have the most amazing grip. Well whatever the case all I can say is that it hurt really really bad – I don’t remember the last time falling hurt that bad. My hand and foot was bleeding as well, and I could tell I was going to have a huge lump and bruise on my lower back. It was a bit of a rough day. Thank goodness all rough days must come to an end.