Suitcase and World: For the children. Lucia King Orphanage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

For the children. Lucia King Orphanage.

After we left Dr. Graham's school, we headed for an orphanage which turned out to be one of the *homes* in Dr. Graham's homes. I can't remember exactly but I think the orphanage was named after its largest donor, Lucia King.

A woman named Janet came out to greet us with white scarves. We entered into the orphanage and she gave us a tour of the place which provides food, shelter and education to both orphaned as well as underprivileged children. This particular home houses about 20 children and most are under the age of 10. The children are segregated into groups identified by color. We entered the Blue room and were greeted by multiple sets of inquisitive eyes all peering at us from above their crib railings. It was nap time but having visitors around gave the children an excuse to stay awake just a bit longer :-)

Cute l'il faces checking us out in the Green Room. 

Each colored room has it's own dining room, study room and bathroom. Each child has a sticker, with a particular image on it, assigned to them. So, they can just look at a sticker and know what belongs to them. Simple but effective system!

Merle checking out the cute l'il toilets.

When we passed through the Pink room, we couldn't help but have a giggle at the pint sized toilets in the bathroom. Janet said that there was originally only one seat but the children would insist on talking to his/her friend while sitting on the bowl so they installed a second seat.  Aww!

After we visited the childrens' living quarters, we handed Janet the gifts that we had brought for the children. She wanted to get our addresses so she could send us each an official thank you but we told her that that was not necessary.  Giving them these small things was the very least of what we could have done for these kids.

Janet waved us into the living room and there, she explained to us how children are brought to the home. According to Janet, the home is open to all children BUT there is a screening process that they must go through. First, there is an interview at their offices in Calcutta. Then a social worker is sent out to meet the family and only the most needy children are brought to the home. Some children come from dysfunctional or broken families and so here, they are given tender loving care. From what I could figure out, how long they stay in this particular home depends on their age and circumstances. I suspect the decision is pretty much made on a case by case basis - you wouldn't want to have a child leave before their time, so-to-speak. As the kids get older, they are moved onto other homes. Seems like they are grouped by age. In Lucia King, they have received children as young as less than a year old but it's been quite a few years since they've taken in any babies. The children we saw that day were probably between 6 and 10 years old, I'm guessing.

Janet herself has been working at the home for 14 years. It's really a calling of sorts for her and you can see, by looking at her face when she talks, that she really, truly loves her work at the home. When she recalls the positive impact she has made over the years, you can sense the pride she has in her work.

After our chat in the living room, Janet took us around to see the school room, where the children receive their daily lessons. A tiny room but it was decorated like any other school room - lots of instructional materials taped to the walls along with handiwork done by the children.

We then went to visit a teeny, weeny, chapel where the children attend Sunday school and services.

It was then time to leave. Janet walked us out to the cars. I thanked her for her hospitality and wished her and the children all the best.