July 24, 2008


How cute is this little guy with the ball?
Look at that face. Give me a blanket under a shady tree and a bunch of little children and I am good to go.........
You could just come back to get me in about 4 or 5 hours and I would be perfectly happy.
We went to a facility today that was called a Sanitorium. They use the term differently here then we do in America. Here a sanitorium is a place people go to recuperate. This facility is for children ages 1-7 who have special needs such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or language delays as well as children with psychological problems. The child on my lap was born in a prison.

I was told most of these children are orphans but they don't live in orphanages they live in hospitals. I am still trying to understand who determines where the children are placed. Everytime I think I have it figured out I learn something new. At some point it is determined if they can go to a "normal school"or if they will be sent to an "internat"(orphanage) to live. One facility told me before children turn 4 they are evaluated at a hospital to determine where they will be placed.

Here is where I got lost. I don't understand how they can go to a "normal" school if they don't have families. Sometimes I get overwhelmed while communicating through an interpretor and it is difficult to go back and ask questions. I guess that is why I am still piecing together information.

So here is what I was able to understand. This facility has 2 buildings each house 25 children between the ages of 1-7 who have various "special needs". The government pays for them to come here 36 days each year for therapy. They receive Physical Therapy, Massage, and Speech Therapy. One of the ladies told us they try to focus on "social adaptation" and education.

Here is an interesting fact. The highest paid employee at this facility would be a doctor who makes $240.00 per month. The teachers/nurses make about $140.00. The lady who does the laundry makes $100.00 per month. No wonder they have a hard time finding staff. Another interesting fact is, the government allows the facility the equivalent of $1.66 per day per child for meals, clothing, medicines and any other needs.

I find this disturbing!!!!!!!!!

The other thing I want to share is the unbelievabe truth is that I found myself thinking "this is a nice place." Something I never would have thought when I first arrrived in the Country.

Here's why.................

They have a nice big outdoor area where we found the children playing. They have some really nice therapy equipment. There was a room with a big tub filled with balls, there were large therapy balls, squishy toys, wooden toys for stacking and stringing, lots of books, walkers, and standers. I even saw a nice wheelchair. As I have mentioned before, this is a nice facility

but, that is what it is, a facility where children are being raised. I am a little alarmed that I am becoming accustomed to seeing childen institutionalized. This is not a home. There is no mom, no dad, no brothers and sisters, no consistant person in these childrens lives.

When these little ones go to bed at night one woman prepares 25 children for bed. She takes all these little ones into the bathroom where they are given a sponge bath every night of the week except one day when they have a real bath. These sweet little ones aren't allowed the luxury of playing in a bath filled with warm water and rubber toys, spongy letters, or bath paints. There's no lap to climb into for a bedtime story. This one woman sits in a room outside 3 little sleeping rooms.

The very sad truth is these little children are being raised in intitutions and this is their Disneyland. This is a nice place to come and run around outside throwing balls, and digging in the sand. This is a great place to come where you can play with other children. This is a wonderful place to come and sing songs, and listen to the piano, to have a nice person rub your back with lotion. But how do you tell them it's time to go home?

The sad thing is this, they are only allowed to come once a year for 36 days. I wonder how a child feels when they realize they are not staying but have to go back to the hospital where we were told "nobody cares about them" and "nobody has time to pay attention to them."

I find myself saddened once again by how this country treats it's children. I don't know how this makes any sense to anyone. Once a year for 7 years children are allowed to come here and stay for 36 days. And when they are not here they are being raised in a hospital by a nurse who doesn't have time to care for them. They are not placed permanently until they are 4 and then they will probably end up in an orphanage or an internat.

I won't go on anymore. This is one of those times that I have to look at the glass as half full and not half empty. Tonight I have to be grateful for what they have and not for what they are missing. I have to be grateful that these children are some of the chosen few who are given this wonderful experience each year. The staff members were nice and seemed to enjoy the children. I am thankful for the dedicated staff who work for practically nothing so that these children can experience joy in their lives.

3 messages from friends and family:

Jan Myers said...

Now you've made me cry! My heart just aches for what these children do without and I wonder how much our children appreciate what they have. It sounds like you're handling it much better than I could!

dixiewhitehead said...

I work with children, special needs at times, as a reading specialist at an elementary school and I've seen some pretty sad situations. Sometimes I want to adopt these kids and take them away from their environment but I can't.

But none of the situations I've seen compare at all with what you are seeing. Thank you for being over there and doing your best in a tough situation. You make me so proud of the church's humanitarian program and of you two, as missionaries. God bless you in your endeavors.

maiasong said...

You have made my Sunday truly a day of worship. My 10yo daughter and I are the only church members in Burkina Faso and it's a glorious day when we can find a way to keep a little sabbath in our Sunday! We're the little red dot in West Africa and we love the sweet spirit of your blog. Bookmarked for FHE lessons!

Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music

click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting


OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)




Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg