In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

There Are No Angels Here

Our newest arrival, 14 month old Dawensley came to GLA just over a week ago. A beautiful, cherubim boy, with clear skin, bright eyes and thick, black shiny hair, he needed almost constant physical contact from either me or his nanny in his first hours at GLA. Inwardly, I groaned.

It is relatively simple to secure the trust and confidence of a child whose home environment has been lacking. They find adequate food here, along with shelter, and clothing. They are allocated a key care-giver, who they quickly identify as a mother figure, and the children attach to these ladies. Of course, children who have been severely neglected may not have the capacity to trust us for a very long time. But if they have not been too deprived, they sense that things are looking up in their lives, and as they settle into the routine of the orphanage, they are usually contented enough.

Dawensly had a bad ear infection, but other than that, he had clearly been well cared for. He had also been avery  loved.We could see that! Now, separated from his mother, I was concerned that he would experience as long-lasting sense of loss. I prescribed an antibiotic, together with regular pain-killers, hoping as I did so, that they would make Dawensley feel better and that he would associate feeling better, with his entry to the nursery, and that this assiociation would inspire the trust Dawensley needed to feel, to make a good adjustment.

Thankflully, that was just what happened. As soon as Daawensley started to feel better, he slid down from my lap, left the safety of my arms, and toddled off to explore the toys that were scattered all over the nursery balcony. In no time at all, an assertive, and forthright personality emerged. Clearly, I was dealing with a toddler, secure enough to identify a friend or too among the 24 other toddlers, and to share his food among the other children, friends or not, when he he'd had his fill. Does that make him sound like an angel boy? Don't be fooled - the sharing is a choice. He shares because he can. This is more about having the upper hand than being a sweet angel. Sorry if I just burst your bubble, but there are no angels here!

The great thing about this, in my mind, is that Dawensley is obviously happy here. On his third morning at GLA, he ran to greet me at 7am with a 'hi' and a wave. If I didn't know better, I would have thought he had been raised at GLA, I thought to myself. I'm glad that Dawensley was cherished at home. It has given him a security and a spirit to go forward with. I hope that whenever he looks back, it will be with a smile.

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