24 Jul 2011

Diary of Volunteer Alejandra from Abugida, 3 July

Today I couldn’t get an internet connection so I just copied and pasted to what I had written on Sunday. Let’s see if tomorrow I have more luck. In general it is proving difficult to get a connection, mobile coverage and hot water. But at least it’s not raining and we are eating very well. Today, as we had foreseen there were smiles and tears. We explained to the carers that we had to change the groups, there were tears of separation, some protests and some happiness. We didn’t achieve 100% of what we had intended but took a step in the right direction. By Wednesday we had to have all the babies and infants organised into their classes with their correct carers because the course is starting. I went to the infants classroom and there found my children. I don’t think they recognised me and I still couldn’t recognise all of them. They are all lovely though, healthy, clean, happy, calm and chubby. Elizabeth is the queen of the class and is charming. My Miguel didn’t come today because he had his circumcision, poor little one! In addition there were the two pairs of very small twins that are starting the course but who we have had at the school for a while already to feed and care for them as we were worried they would not survive. Also we have the new small baby boy with cerebral paralysis who is very disconnected from his environment. As soon as the kindergarten is up and running, and I think that this year it will be easier, I shall concentrate more on this boy and the other little girl with cerebral paralysis. I am optimistic of course.

After all the confusion of the new groups we were able to do the interviews for the new carers. We saw 16 in total. Dear me what a lot we had to check: age, studies, family situation, children, experience, ideas for work in terms of activities, attitude towards HIV positive children, ability to fulfil hours of work, availability to attend training course after the classes finish, relation to the families of the children… we had to take into account a mountain of factors. Even making them sing or play on the floor with Carolina who was pretending to be a child, in order to see how they felt being on the floor and if they knew how to use the toys and if they could use them in an educative fashion… Last year we noticed that the carers were adept at providing assistance with meals, nappies, etc. but few were motivated to sing, play or teach. For this reason we were particularly looking for carers who could demonstrate these abilities. It was difficult though because they themselves had lived their childhood without toys. However amongst all of these we found two girls who we believe will be fantastic.

In the afternoon we went to Sebeta, the centre for the blind children which is half and hour or so from Abugida. The two girls from the Canaries who arrived last night, Virginia, us and Zerihun travelled over.  I was a little overwhelmed by Sebeta. The environment is nice, even better than Abugida, but the school is a horrible ghetto for these blind children, some without eyes, in a lamentable state of hygiene. The two Argentinean girls had been creating a playroom/workshop which is beautiful. The Canarian girls will remain here in Sebeta to continue with the work of Virginia and Debora. I have suggested that they prioritise hygiene before play if not the infections will create big problems (you cannot imagine how these children smell).

Returned to Abugida, ate well, prepared my report regarding the selection of the new carers and then to sleep to face another day tomorrow.

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