I was up earlier than everyone else this morning with a splitting headache – I must have slept the wrong way and my neck muscles seized up. I was not feeling well all morning, and I was having difficulty keeping any pain relief drugs down, so we were worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it to our appointment at the orphanage this morning.
However, by the time Magnolia came to pick us up at 10am, I was feeling a bit better, so we headed off in her little car for the long drive down to the southern end of Cali where Chiquitines is located.
The meeting was with the social worker who looked after Andres’s case from before he was born until placement with us, with Agatha the director of Chiquitines acting as interpreter for us. It was an interesting meeting as they were able to give us full details about the circumstances of Andres’s arrival at the orphanage after he was born and how the process worked. They also provided us with more details about his birth mother – which we will keep for Andres.
After the meeting, we were taken of a tour of the orphanage by Magnolia (who knows the place well). It is a very clean and well set up place – and it is obvious that the staff and volunteers care very much for the children they look after.
The main part of Chiquitines is set up around a central courtyard with a large tree in the middle, around the outside are the administrative and medical offices, the kitchen, and all of the rooms for the children. There were some very young babies there only several weeks old, still in small cribs, plus the slightly older infants who had cots. We saw the cot where Andres slept before we collected him and where he was changed and washed.
When we were there, the infants were being fed out next to the courtyard, sitting in bouncers waiting to be fed by the volunteer staff – a bit of a production line. Further along, some toddlers in highchairs were being fed what looked like soup. Each room had three cots or beds, with the older kids sleeping in bunk beds.
Out the back of the orphanage, they had a swimming pool (fully fenced) and apparently all the kids learn how to swim when old enough. There was also a small classroom area where the pre-school aged kids were sitting colouring and doing other activities. There is a playground and plenty of grassed area for the kids to run around – even a small creek running through the yard for the kids to explore if they want. Given the orphanage is right on the outskirts of the city (there are cows in the paddock across the road), it is relatively quiet and not as polluted here as it would be closer to the centre of town. It really is a lovely place.
We brought over quite a bit of stuff with us as donations for the orphanage – including a couple of large bags of clothes made by ladies all over South Australia who make clothes especially for orphanages. The clothing was organized by Kathie Montagu – she sorts the clothing and packs it to send to various places around the world. Apparently she has a world map with pins marking the places where the clothing has gone so she will add on Cali, Colombia. With nearly 70 kids to look after, the orphanage would go through quite a lot of stuff on a daily basis – even the basics like shampoo, toothpaste, and such – so we took some of that along too, as well paper, pencils and other useful things for kids.
After driving back in time for lunch, we spent the afternoon relaxing around the hotel. We’re really enjoying our time with Andres, but is really quite tiring – even though we get three meals a day prepared for us and have nothing much else to do other than eat, sleep, and change dirty nappies … and of course play with our son who gets more active and interesting every day!