Two stories told to me by one of the Italian paediatricians here…
One baby was ill and in the Daddy’s Home hospital. His mother had married a man while she was pregnant, who was not the father of the child. When the child was born, the husband made his wife give the baby away and so the baby came to Daddy’s Home. The woman was deeply distraught at having to do this and remained so upset that eventually her local priest intervened and persuaded the husband to allow his wife to keep her baby. So that baby was only here for a couple of days.
Another baby arrived because his birth parents sold him to another couple. The baby then got ill, very ill and this new couple spent around €800 in hospital bills (a teacher here earns around €100 a month, a field worker earns around €3 per day), while in hospital the government found out that the baby had been sold and they took him away from the second couple so now he is here, he is 2 months old.
Every baby in Babies Home has a complex story, i have given up trying to reason with the moral maze that accompanies their arrival here and just hope for a better future for them all…
Right now there are 29 children in Babies Home (part of the Daddy’s Home orphanage )and always more girls than boys ranging from newly born to 3 years old. They are sent here by Childline India where any immediate medical problems are taken care of. Then the child’s presence at the orphanage is advertised in order to try to find relatives. After a certain period, if no one comes forward, the child stays with Daddy’s Home. The majority of children will be adopted, but not the ones with HIV, the medical bills are prohibitively expensive, thought they do have a decent chance here of a long life, they will be given the relevant medicine and looked after. Next week around 6 adoptions will go through so the population will drop, but more will come.
I come here sometimes when i have spare time. Am not at all maternal, but here you find yourself doing things you would not normally do, so i come here to play with the babies just to help give them some stimulation. The place is well run and well staffed but of course it’s impossible to dedicate all the time that would normally be dedicated to a baby for play and contact…so any bit of extra attention helps.
(my feet – Patricia pointing, Stella in the foreground)
Stella (above) – i was shocked when i found out she was 3 years old, though apparently she has made huge progress from when she first came here, with malnutrition and covered in heat boils. She is nearly walking now but she doesn’t talk yet.
(Jamini – 2 months old and gaining weight…)
Been to the babies home today, here in the orphanage, where i saw a baby one week old found abandoned in a bin and brought here. Then there was another one left in a bag filled with food and clothes for the baby. In all there are about a 6 or 7 babies here right now, sometimes there are more, last year there were 20. But the good news is that they pretty much all get adopted by Indian families.
Went to Vijayawada, a proper Indian city. Never saw a single western face never mind a tourist. Did see a statue of Lenin though.
Went to an Indian restaurant, a real one mind, no cutlery and fiery hot pickles, its actually quite liberating trying to eat sauce with your fingers, only use your right hand mind, the left hand is for less sanitary matters…not sure what left handed folks do. So you find yourself thinking in cliches, but people ARE incredibly friendly here and very kind. They will invite you into their home even if they have almost nothing.
Catholicism and communism are very present in the area
A walk in to the village next door shows up just what a little oasis i am living in, in the orphanage, but again, people are always kind and proud of what they have.