A DAY AT THE BUTOKE ORPHANAGE IN KANANGA – December 2012
Lively activities start at daybreak at our orphanage. At about 5.30 am I can hear the bigger children in the courtyard opening the rainwater reserve, their voices mix with the calls of cocks and wild birds. Latest by 6am we hear all the voices mixed in a harmony. Everyone greeting and expressing the joy of being alive while hurrying to wash up in the morning freshness ( 64F/ 18C) I hear the bass baritone voice of Papa Many and the tenor of his aide Sha Buima. They are in the kitchen trying to light the fire so as to prepare hot sugared milk for all the children. Soon Dr Jean and I will join them. Papa Many will quickly buy fifteen loafs of bread in the nearby market. We have a reserve of mayonnaise spread which the children adore. This simple breakfast is received in total grateful silence as it is considered by everyone an unheard of luxury. By about 7am the group starts to break up, some check their schoolbags, others finish their homework. By 7.20 am Sha Biuma calls everyone to go to school as one big team, today it is Many who guides them as he will ask some clarifications on the performance of everyone. All but one child Ngalamulume passed the exams, we all know he is intelligent, a talented singer, but a troubled soul. His family disbanded and he spent an unknown length of time as street child. He needs special attention. A last “Au revoir” and they are off.
While the kids are going, Sha Biuma puts the beans for lunch on the brasero. He will engage in a race between cleaning up, washing clothes and prepare the lunch for 12.30 noon. Lunch is rice and beans and vegetable.
Today no child is ill, it usually falls to me to diagnose and treat while Papa Many looks after their comfort and access to drinks and treats. While Dr Jean is in the courtyard meeting collaborators and people in search of medical or other assistance, he refers to the clinic, he counsels ,by 9am he calls me to my room. My room serves as sanctuary where we seek each other’s and God’s guidance. My room offers also privacy when children or adults need to explain sexual or violence problems. Today it is a little girl of 46 months who was raped by a neighbor last night, who needs our attention.We talk with her and her mam. We prepare the way of a gyne diagnosis and preventive or curative treatment of STD and for a formal complaint against the violator.9.30 am Dr jean is overdue in the clinic and takes child and mother with him to the clinic.
Papa Many has returned and taken off to the market to find suitable vegetables for the lunch and supper. I await his return from the market to learn what information he culled at the school. In the meantime I try to write up our day sofar.
12.30 noon I hear the many voices of our kids, it is a joyful chorus. The temperature is 96F/ 33C. They are hungry and Sha Buima is ready. He scoops for each one rice and beans and vegetables. The more hungry ones go for a second scoop. Again the meal is totally silent and they withdraw to their rooms some sleep some work on homework. I will again hear them about 4pm when the temperature becomes more tolerant, small groups recite together poems they learned a school, the Ngalamulume or Mbombo start a religious song and most if not all join the chorus. We all enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
By 4.30pm I start calling Papa Many and the biggest kids to work with them on their homework. We work with 3rd and 4th graders first, the take 1st and 2nd graders. By 5.30 we have assured everyone understands what is needed. Soon thereafter start football and other physical games they organize themselves.
Papa Many and I watch and where needed restore peace to avoid any wild games. Today Dr Jean worked in town so he joins us as the day dies and our kids engage in more robust games, adults play checkers or Dam. Supper is served about 6pm. The little girl that was raped danses with the others on music of Radio Okapi. Francois the coordinator of health arrives at 7pm with the news that a girl of 15 years has been abandoned in Musue Bantu with 5gm percent HMGB, typhoid and peritonitis0A transfusion has been done but the only chance is a transfer to Dr Fletcher in IMCK.So without supper Dr Jean hurries away to take her to IMCK
About 8pm the kids go to sleep under their mosquito nets. It used to be that they would fall asleep anywhere in the courtyard or the house but they have developed the discipline to go themselves where they are safe. Good Night God bless you all.