Once we had finished our lunch (prepared by the wife of our bus drive for the week), we headed to the orphanage. This was the part of the trip that I was most worried about. I had joked many times in the weeks leading up to our departure that I was concerned I would accidentally adopt one or two without my husband's knowledge. It turns out that Belizian law would have made that difficult even if I had wanted to.
We weren't allowed to take any pictures within the orphanage gates. They didn't want to risk any kids accidentally ending up on the internet or something. (Possibly on a blog like this?)
Oh my goodness, what fun we had with those children. They were thrilled to receive the gifts we brought, like toys and games. But, even more, they wanted to play with us. We ran, sang, did crafts, carried kids and just had fun.
There was a woman who arrived and sat with some of the children. I heard later that she was a mother visiting her children. She had left them there because she couldn't provide for them.
A few of us spent some time with the employee in charge that day. She told us that she rides her bicycle almost two hours in the morning to arrive for her 10 hour shift. Most days she rides back home at the end, although she sometimes will spend the night. She talked about her love for the children, which is what keeps her there. She talked about her dream of being able to teach the kids some skills, like sewing, so when they leave they have a shot and making themselves into something. We learned that even though they get donations - like chickens and gardens - they don't have the time or personnel to manage everything. So, the chickens died and the gardens wither. She said that although they always appreciate the donations, they really just need more hands.
We were at the orphanage for about 2 hours, I believe. My daughter really enjoyed this part of our trip. While it broke my heart that the kids were there, I did see many smiles. I left there in better shape than I anticipated.
Next up: heading to our home for the week.