29.09.2012 87 °F
Sorry for not posting sooner, but our internet connection was basically nonexistent until this week. My first month here was spent in Dakar just getting used to everything and bonding with little man so he would be okay when he was left alone with me. He’s pretty shy but luckily he warmed up to me quickly and we’re pretty good friends now!
Here are some pictures of the lil’ man. He’s killing it in some overall jorts!
This little kid eats like a squirrel and a typewriter. He holds things to his mouth the whole time and fills those huge cheeks up while he does it…pretty darn cute!
His parents claim he has a ‘trucker’s physique’ since he is all belly and no butt!
He is also quite the budding artist…
Dakar is surrounded by water on most sides and it makes for some beautiful views while driving around the city. The water here isn’t the cleanest, but it sure is pretty!
All of the money for infrastructure upkeep is put towards the main road into town since that is what most visitors see, so the roads and sidewalks aren’t very user friendly. Therefore most people just walk on the streets. This leads to people getting hit by cars very often. We actually saw a man get ‘bumped’ out of the street by a car the other day, and the driver didn’t even stop to apologize! The man wasn’t hurt, but it’s still crazy to see!
Here are a few random shots from around the city.
(yes, that is a Curves in the background!)
It’s hard to take pictures when there are lots of people around because it makes you an automatic target for people to approach. If you pull out a camera or walk without purpose for a second, you get accosted by people trying to sell things, so I haven’t gotten any pictures of the busy streets yet. I’ll attempt it one day...
The biggest draw for taking the job here was actually the fact that I’d be able to volunteer at an orphanage again and hopefully determine for sure if adoption was the field I want to go into.
I searched online and found a place called La Pouponniere (French for nursery). It is a home for children under one year old. It was founded by some Spanish nuns and it was originally used as an overflow facility to care for infants with malnutrition. A previous volunteer told me that one of the nuns informed her that it is now a home for babies that have been abandoned or whose mothers have died in childbirth. The babies who were abandoned are put up for adoption both locally and internationally. There are currently strong links with Spain and France and lots of the babies get adopted by families from those two countries. The babies whose mothers died are kept at the nursery until they are 1 year old. Most of them have families that will eventually take them in, but who don’t currently have the means to do so. At least one family member is required to visit every Sunday. If the family decides that they can no longer support the baby, it becomes available for adoption. La Pouponniere’s goal is to help these babies through their first year of life. If there are families that are able take the baby, they are given a year’s supply of milk to help them make it to age 2. It’s really a wonderful place and I’m so glad I found it. In order to protect the babies and their families no pictures are allowed. Here is the website that has more information and a few pictures.
The whole process of volunteering there is so different than something that would happen back home. Since it is run by Spanish nuns, Roger (the dad) who is fluent in Spanish, went with me one day to ask about volunteering. The nun told him the times and days that volunteers were needed most and we decided that I would go twice a week. Upon arriving on my first day of volunteering, I was ushered upstairs to the 6 month to 1 year floor. There are about 55 babies on that floor. I was given a scrub shirt to wear, and handed a baby to feed! Luckily I have lots of experience and feel very comfortable holding and feeding babies. When that baby finished its bottle someone scooped him up and handed me another! It is quite the process to feed all these little guys! After they are fed the babies get changed and then put in a play room. At one point I was the only adult in the play room with 26 babies under one! I was terrified that something would happen to one of them on my watch, but it turns out babies are pretty resilient. They were rolling onto each other, hitting each other with toys and biting each other, but there were no injuries and surprisingly few tears!
The hardest part is seeing how much these little ones crave one-on-one attention. When I squat or kneel close to the floor they all come crawling over and push each other out of the way to get to me. It’s hard to see them suffering like this, but I’m still happy I have this opportunity to share a little love with them!
My first day there I also met a French couple who was volunteering there. The woman was playing with one little girl with a huge smile on her face, and when I looked over at her she just kept saying ‘This is my daughter! This is my daughter!!” She told me that her husband and she were adopting her and they had just met the day before! It was amazing to see the joy on her face and knowing that one more little baby was going to have a home! Witnessing that really secured my want to work in adoption. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and that I was able to figure that out!
It can be really depressing at times, and someone even asked me why I put myself through it, but for me just knowing that I might help one person feel a little more loved is worth it all.
In August Jayme the baby and I traveled through Ethiopia, Djibuti and Uganda because Jayme had some work to do there. I’m trying to split up the posts since so much has happened since I was last able to write, that I think I’ll leave those countries for a separate entry.