Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas Part 2

On Tuesday Mark and Christian began to take out the old swing set and get things ready to install the new one. Jenn and I joined another group as we took two vehicles to Tijuana to deliver supplies to three different orphanages. When Christian posts pictures of the swing set I will put a link here.
But until then I'll show you what Jenn and I did.

The first orphanage was in a decent neighborhood, just past these blue gates. It was a small orphanage with about 18 kids who are all special needs kids. Some had obvious disabilities, others had AIDS.
Our second stop was further out of town. I never realized how hilly Tijuana is and I've never seen such steep paved streets. When we were downtown I was glad I wasn't driving but as we drove around trying to find the next orphanage...
can I just say that we drove on streets the make the steepest streets around here seem flat.
And narrow... don't even think about a u-turn, more like a 7 point turn all he time feeling like you are going to roll over.
This neighborhood was not quite as nice as the first. The orphanage itself was levels of cement and buildings on the side of a hill.
The two boys sitting down greeted us and offered to share their trucks with us. When I pulled out the camera they just wanted to see pictures of themselves. How I wished for "a bit of earth" for them. There was a small planter about 6" x 2' but that's it. Even with stairs all over and steep walkways a 26 year old young lady in a wheel chair lives here.
They dry their clothes by hanging them on the fence. Looking out towards Tijuana I could see a number of houses that had billboards for roofs. No wonder all the working billboards I saw were made from fabric stretched on to frames.

The last orphanage was on the other side of Tijuana. It was my job to use the map and get us there. I wasn't too worried and considered myself a pretty good navigator...
based of course on the streets being marked and stuff like that.

Originally the plan was to stop in Tijuana for lunch.
I watched and watched for the street we were supposed to turn left on.
On the map it looked like a major street...
then all of a sudden we were crossing the canal
We missed not only the street we were looking for but were well on our way to the other side of town. Oh well, good thing we brought trail mix and some granola bars.

We decided we might as well deliver the rest of the stuff and come back and eat. If streets were hard to find in the center of town, finding them on the outskirts proved even more challenging. We circled the area for a good hour before we finally found it.
We pulled up to this gate and I rang the doorbell. An adult and two other big kids came out to open the gate. We parked inside and they locked the gate behind us.
This was a sign of things to come. Older kids came out to help unload boxes of food, diapers, baby formula, blankets, school kits and hygiene kits.
After all was unloaded they took us on a tour of the orphanage. Everywhere we went steel gates were unlocked and locked behind us. It was strange. They had a few dogs and the whole place smelled like dog poo.

This is the boys dorms. Notice the bunk beds three high on the left. All the kids were locked in the kitchen/dining room while we were there. For many years the orphanage used these:
Notice the locks on them. Can you imagine trying to keep all those kids out of them with no locks? Feel free to try this at home. Someone recently donated a large walk in refrigerator to the orphanage so they don't use these any more. I was relieved for them. Could you imagine cooking for massive quantities of people and needing to lock and unlock fridge after fridge to get out the ingredients you need?
This is the nun that is in charge of the orphanage.
She showed us a statue that is her pride and joy.
It's Jesus as a child with his adoptive father Joseph.
It sits in the main entrance.

This was the poorest of the orphanages that we visited and in the poorest of neighborhoods. It also serves as a battered woman's shelter. It was dirty with trash on the playground. A few children came over to us as we passed through the dining room but we didn't get to play with them. I felt disconnected. Maybe it was all the bars, gates and locks. How sad to grow up on a place like this.

As we went through down town Tijuana to get lunch (at 3:00 pm) I noticed a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the center of a large round-about. He stands tall holding broken chains in his hands.
I'm sure it symbolizes freeing the slaves but I also thought about all the children growing up here with so little. One thing I was impressed with is that each of the orphanages we visited emphasized schooling. It provided hope that these kids may be able to take control of their lives someday, to break the chains of poverty that could bind them.

1 comment:

MZ said...

Nice post. It definitely is humbling to see how the rest of the world lives...We are so fortunate!