Monday was my introduction to the orphanage where I will be working for the next month. A short, bumpy bus ride from downtown Guadalajara, the orphanage is a small but relatively well staffed respute for those with two major misfortunes in life; cerebral palsy and orphan hood. Often the two are interlinked for many can't afford the time, money or resources involved in raising a disabled child.
I am working mainly with toddlers and babies, a small ward which consists of a room of 7 cots and a few playthings. They are protected in here, scarce allowed out so as not to harm their fragile immune systems. The staff rotate throughout the day, some taking the 7am-3pm shift and others the following 8 hours so the children are used to new faces, different parental figures and constant change. Perhaps this is why they warm to me so quickly, appreciative of any attention and often simply in want of a hug. Amazingly grateful and loving, these handicapped children, who cannot talk, walk by themselves, go to the toilet or even eat, require simply the love and care that all children deserve. It doesn't take much to provoke laughter from their lips and despite their handicap they hold the amazing capacity to understand and accept.
Due to my somewhat dire spanish, there is a bit of a language barrier with the staff, however it does mean I am forced to speak as best I can and it proves no problem with the children as they respond to songs and rhymes in any language, finding it difficult enough to comprehend even basic spanish without the aid of physical guidance.
At first it was difficult to understand how to interact with the children and what guidelines there were, especially the severely disabled ones for fear that their fragility meant they couldn't be picked up etc, however in reality their fragility only adds to their innocence and their need to be to properly cared for.