Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pattaya Orphanage

It's about 7:15am on Sunday morning and I got up early to have a little bit of time to myself (and with you :-) before we leave for breakfast at 8am. Today is Sunday, so we are obviously going to church. But, not just one church service. We have two Pastors who would like for us to visit their churches, so we are going to one service at 10am and one at 1pm. I'm very curious to see how the church services are here. They were very different in Rwanda last summer, so I think that it will be an education on Thai culture today.

After church, we are going to the grocery store to pick up a bunch of supplies (no Target out here :-( to make PB & J sandwiches and we'll also pick up a bunch of fruit and shampoos and other daily essentials to take with us to the Prison Ministry tomorrow. We'll be visiting the local jails and handing out food. The prison's here are very different. They obviously rely on outside help to feed the prisoners and when you go into the prisons, the people are separated by ethnicity (Cambodians, Vietnemese, Thai, etc.), they are also separated by male/female and you'll see babies and kids in prison because they are with their mom/dad. But, I suppose prison is safer than the kids being let out onto the street where they can be picked up by a mamasan and sold into prostitution. Later tomorrow, we will be traveling to Bangkok for the last 3-4 days that we are here.

Yesterday, we went and walked the local beach and talked to the boys living on the beach. They really have absolutely nothing except for the clothes on their back and most of them are probably in their late teens/early twenties. The one we spoke with yesterday, Bui, was there because his Farong (Thai word for foreigner) boyfriend had broken up with him and kicked him out. He said that he was very sad and didn't want to talk about it anymore because he didn't want to cry in front of us. One of the girls gave him some money and we all prayed for him.

In the afternoon, we went to the Pattaya Orphanage. Okay, I have to say that this has, by far, been one of my favorite things this whole trip. It's a Catholic-run orphanage and the lady who showed us around, Ah, was the cutest thing. She was so short and petite, but she had SO much energy and she obviously felt strongly about what they were doing at the orphanage and she has a real passion for the children there. It's a rather large facility and they have a small soccer field and playground and a number of buildings. They also house deaf children there- the deaf children, however, haven't necessarily been orphaned... they are just being boarded their while they go through school. They also had a couple of developmentally disabled adults in their 20's and 30's living there also. We were first taken to the playground where the young kids were playing and as soon as we approached, several of the kids ran up to us, grabbed our hands and pulled us over to the playground. They all wanted to be held and more than one of us was called 'mama' while we were there. The kids seemed to be really happy- they looked like any other kids that might be at recess in school. After that we went over to the nursery and toddler building. We spent most of our time there. We didn't spend time with the babies because they are just too suseptible to any germs we might have, but we could look in and see them. There were a lot of them. Two to a crib and at least one of them looked premature and several of them looked like they were newborns. Ah said that a lot of the children come from young un-wed mothers who cannot take care of them. When a mother wants to give up her child, they put them through counseling sessions to ensure that they are aware of the decision they are making because, in Thailand, once the papers have been signed, that's it. They've signed over their rights and they have no chance of getting that child back. The toddlers were all way too cute. There was one girl who we were calling 'monkey' by the end of the day. She was crawling all over the tops of the cribs and up on dressers- anything that was high off of the ground. We had to run several times and pick her up off of high dressers that she had managed to get herself up onto. One little girl, we were told, had no hope of adoption (she was probably less than a year old). The reason is because, for whatever reason, they had absolutely no paperwork on her and without paperwork, I guess they cannot adopt that child out. Currently, Thailand is working with the USA to come to an agreement so that US citizens will be able to adopt from Thailand. As it is, at this one orphanage, alone, they have over 200 children and, on average, only 12 adoptions per year. At this particular orphanage, they do not have HIV/AIDS babies. They test the babies as soon as they come in and if they have HIV/AIDS, they are automatically sent to an orphanage that specializes in that because that is where they will get the best care.

I REALLY want to go back- I met one girl from England who was there volunteering for 5 months and the orphanage is paying for her food/lodging. I don't know if I'll ever end up doing something like that in the future, but it's something to pray about! You can know that I really enjoyed it because, these kids are all in cloth diapers, which do absolutely NOTHING as far as keeping the kids dry. So, needless to say, I was pee'd on not once, but twice. And I was okay with it! I just went to the restroom and washed myself off. :-)

I hope that all is well at home and I hope to be able to update you all soon!


Dana said...

I just want you to know I love all your updates! You sound so happy and fulfilled.