CONIN, by Molly

Alzar School | 08.01.12

We drove from the campsite in Los Quenes to the town of Curico, where our Chilean student, Issy, was from. We were to volunteer in the orphanage and help with what ever projects they needed to be done there. We were ushered in by older women dressed in scrubs and were led into a room of about 6 babies, aged from around 3 months to one and a half years. Kristin picked up one of the smallest of the bunch and held her to her shoulder, the baby had a bald spot on that child’s head from rubbing against the mattress on the crib. This was extremely sad to me, making me feel thankful again for being blessed with a family in which I never had to experience hardships like these babies face. Since there were many babies in the room, when one began crying, it set off a chain reaction. I picked up another baby, who was particularly skinny and who was beginning to cry. I walked around the maze of cribs in the room, cradling his head in the crook of my arm, as I’d learned from holding my cousin Ben several years ago. Each time I attempted to put the baby down, it began scrunching up its face like it was about to cry again, making evident once again how much love they┬áneed while staying there in the orphanage. I finally handed the baby off to a worker for a diaper change and walked with the rest of the group into the play area where several children looking around 2-3 years old were running around. Sean sat with a young girl named Krista and when he got up to talk to one of the workers, she began crying and clinging to his shirt. He left her with me and when I tried to approach her, she began crying even harder, reaching out for him even though he wasn’t even there. I was told later that Krista had just arrived two weeks ago. Children are brought here for reasons such as lack of financial stability or health, and there was a chance that Krista may never see her mom again. It was obvious how mentally scarring this could be, especially on a three year old to be taken from her parents. This may result in later problems for her, and she could very well end up in the same situation with her own children.

We were then told by Kristin that we were going to get supplies for our community service project. We picked up cans of periwinkle and white paint, plus a can of dark blue latex paint to re-paint the high chairs. We returned during the kid’s naptime and began covering the walls, freshening up the yellowing walls and giving the room a complete makeover. Matt, Issy, and Hannah took care of the high chairs, a process much easier said than done. The job required extra detailing to ensure there were no left over white spots. After finishing the wall painting and completing the paint job on the 5th high chair, we then washed our paintbrushes in the sink, turning our hands the color of a smurfs. Don’t worry, Sean took pictures. Visiting the orphanage was extremely rewarding, making me so much more grateful for every past experience I’ve encountered and those to come in the future.