Mayhem at the Orphanage!
I ended up spending the rest of my mornings volunteering at the orphanage in Goa. As soon as I walked into the place I fell in love with it. I had a child clung to every part of my body, desperate to tell me their names and get attention from the new face!
There were kids of all ages at the orphanage, so the sessions were complete mayhem! We kept everyone together for the good morning song and other nursery rhymes that we started off with, and then tried to separate them into Young group, Middle Group and Older group giving them different worksheets that matched their standards… it usually worked for about 5 minutes until someone snatched a pencil from another, and suddenly there was crying, screaming, running, hitting, kicking, biting, throwing, pinching, shouting… by the end of the 3 hours I needed a nap!
The youngest in the Young group was a gorgeous little boy named David who was about 8 months old. All the girls at the orphanage were besotted with him but they treated him like a toy. I actually had to stop them playing tug of war with him at one point. They were very rough with him, and my heart always skipped a beat when I saw a tiny girl with him balanced precariously on her hip! And then there was one terrifying moment when one of the girls had left him on a table on his own, and I’ll never forget the sound of soft baby head on hard marble floor. He was thankfully OK, and I think it shook the girls so much that they learnt a lesson to be more careful with him.
Another boy, whose name I never knew, had such a sad story. His parents had dropped him and his sister off at the orphanage because they couldn’t afford to keep them, and wanted them to have a better life. 2 weeks later, they had returned and decided to take home his sister, but leave him there. He was only about 18 months, and was so desperate for affection that whenever we put him down he burst out crying. I ended up having him attached to me for the next few days.
There were so many sad stories, that it was very difficult not to be brought down by it all. However on my second day, I spoke to a 15 year old girl called Rajenta, and whilst we were playing game I casually asked her if she likes living at the orphanage. She gave me a big smile and wagged her head frantically saying ‘Yes it’s so much fun, I’m around my friends all the time and the volunteers always bring us fun things to do!’ And with that comment, I started to see the positive side of the orphanage, rather than the sadness. A lot of these children, especially the ones like my little cuddly boy, will be living much better lives than if they stayed with their poverty stricken parents. They all have somewhere warm to sleep, get fed everyday, have a few changes of clothes, running water, go to school everyday so they have a chance at a better future, and have the volunteers come every morning to play games, teach them English, help with their homework and give them some much needed affection.
Goa as a destination was beautiful, the culture, the beaches, the people… but it was the Orphanage and the children I met that really made the experience memorable.