If you’re American, I immediately expect you to think of sad puppies when you read this blog title. While I’m not about to talk about puppy deaths, I am about to talk about something pretty depressing.
Caution to all Moms: you’re about to want to move to Honduras and live out the rest of your life adopting and taking care of Honduran babies.
So five days a week, I work in the public orphanage in San Pedro called Nueva Esperanza. I work with two sets of kids mostly: the babies and the tweenage boys. Since I already posted about my boys last week (or two weeks ago, who can really remember anyway), I thought it was time to start talking about the squishiest part of my day. I mean that in a super-cute-chubby-baby kind of way as well as a that-diaper-sure-looks-squishy-and-stinky kind of way. These squishes are the cutest little dudes known to mankind (says the extremely bias missionary). Besides just being cute, they’re also just so sweet and huggable. They’re so great they even turned me into a baby person!
Let’s take a moment to explain how anti-baby I used to be to prove how great these kids are. On multiple family party occasions I would come across my mom trying to get me to hold one of my cousins’ babies. We all know you can’t say no to Nancy, so I’d try it out. What would happen is, I’d hold it for like five seconds and it’d start screaming or crying. Then I’d just, like, hold it out awkwardly until someone came and took it. Babies didn’t like me, I didn’t like babies. They were drooly, poopy, screamy, and just plain boring. I mean, how do you sit around a baby for hours watching it almost roll over? WOO YEAH YOU TURNED YOUR BODY 60 DEGREES THIS IS SOOOO EXCITING! Yeah, no thanks. Can we go home and play The Sims now?
You would think, since that was how I used to react to babies, that I would still be at least someone grossed out/bored of them, right? Um, no. At least not these squishes. They’re just so squishy and fun and adorable. Ugh, man, I just want to take them all home with me. They’re the best. But sitting here and writing dumb things about babies being squishy is not what I was hoping to blog about today. How I came to love babies is not nearly as important as what’s happening to these adorable squishes.
As all of our common senses know, an orphanage is not the best place for a baby to grow up. For those of us that know Nueva, we know that this particular orphanage is probably one of the worst orphanages for babies to grow up in. Given that it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be thanks to the work of ROOM, it’s still a pretty terrible place. Some of these improvements by ROOM include: setting up a program for the babies called the Scarlet Project, hiring the best nursery worker ever named Pamela (definitely not bias here either considering she’s my good friend and ride to church every week) as well as a nurse and other Tias, providing clothing, bottles, and other essentials, and moving the special needs kids to another room in order to give the kids therapy and give a play room to the babies. They’ve really made some drastic changes.
Unfortunately, even with those giant changes, the babies of Nueva are still struggling. When I or Pamela aren’t there, the babies usually just get stuck in their cribs and aren’t given any attention. They’re fed with bottles on top of pillows, cut so that they’ll drink it faster. They wait hours in dirty diapers to be changed. Their cries are not answered. They aren’t held. Healthy babies are put into the same crib as sick babies, even if other cribs are open. They’re bathed in the same water that the mops are washed in.
ROOM’s been putting in as much work as possible to get these babies out and put into good, adoptive homes. However, the director of the orphanage won’t give her babies unless they get incredibly, terribly sick. And by that I mean, unless the baby’s about to die, he/she isn’t going to go anywhere. This issue has caused the death of a beautiful baby named Enrique. This is when we start playing the incredibly depressing “Arms of an Angel” song now. Are we all in that I-want-to-adopt-600-puppies mood yet?
This is Enrique. The picture on the right is the picture of Enrique as he came to Nueva, a healthy, premature, newborn baby. The picture on the left is Enrique three months later, malnourished from the terrible care of the orphanage. Enrique died in the public hospital a little while after that picture was taken. The babies that don’t fight, ones like Enrique, are set up to face a slow, sad death in Nueva.
So what can you do about that? What can anyone do about it if the director won’t let anyone have the babies unless they’re near death? Here’s one way to help.
Let’s start with one big, giant success story.
This little girl’s name was Scarlet while she was in Nueva. She’s recently been adopted and her name has been changed. This girl is what started what ROOM calls the Scarlet Project. I met Scarlet when she was malnourished and dying like the picture on the right. I thought she was a goner. I never even knew what ROOM was. I thought much like Jenny did. Scarlet will die, there’s no way to help her.
But then, to everyone’s shock, we saw the picture of chunky-monkey Scarlet some months later, posted by Tara on her blog, which Jenny somehow found (Fun fact: Jenny is the one who introduced me to ROOM, meaning that one blog post basically brought me to Honduras as a long-term volunteer). They saved Scarlet’s life, a life that everyone else had given up hope on. They also gave her a family, something we all thought she’d never get the chance to have.
The Scarlet Project makes successes like this happen. They take babies that they can out of Nueva, and give them to adoptive families. They also pay to have Pamela come in and take care of the babies, as well as hired a nurse. They pay for milk, they pay for new bottles, they pay for everything they can to keep these babies alive and healthy. They fight to get them to families. They send the babies to a private hospital to get better rather than to the public hospital where they could easily die.
The biggest savior between life and death of sick babies is being sent to a private hospital. Without enough funding (which they really don’t have the funding they need right now), the babies get sent to a public hospital. This public hospital is the same hospital Enrique died in. The public hospital will only pay attention to extreme cases, leaving sick babies to get sicker until they become extreme themselves, and die. Private hospitals deal with sick babies quickly and promptly, getting them healthy before their minor sickness becomes a major sickness. When and if babies that are abandoned get sent to the hospital, ROOM can get them sent to adoptive families.
To all my tear-filled moms out there, help save the lives of these babies. I’m not Sarah Mcsomethingorother, but please sponsor ROOM’s Scarlet Project. With any kind of donation, you can save more than just sad puppies. You can save the lives of these precious, squishy little human beings.
You could be the difference between life and death for these kids.