We spent a few days at Sanyu Babies Home helping to look after the children. There are currently 49 babies resident in the home varying in age from 1 day old to 4 years old. When we arrived the children were playing outside and ran to see us with big smiling faces. Our first impression was that the children were happy, clean and cared for. We had a chat with Barbara the administrator who gave us a background to the home and the present children. She gave us our shopping list of things they required - nappies, toilet tissue, washing powder, baby milk, cooking oil, margarine and Milton. Not an extravagant list just essentials. Following this she said we were very welcome to have a look around, stay and help etc. Florence, Tilly, Nia and myself stayed and arranged to be picked up later. Barbara had said evening meal was always busy and as many volunteers were needed as possible. We spent an hour holding various babies, playing with them and calming them. Florence walked around with various babies whilst Nia rocked them in their only pushchair and Tilly played with those in their cots.
Dinner time came around and we were told to take the babies through to the dining area. I have never seen so many high chairs, low chairs and benches in one place! The staff knew exactly where the children sat and we were instructed where to put each baby dependent upon age. The older age group sat on low high chairs and were given their meal of potato and g nut to eat by hand. The younger ones were then placed in higher benches after which we were given a bowl of potato and g nut and a spoon and told to feed 4 babies each. Florence and I set to work feeding four babies each giving a spoonful to one at a time. Once this was finished bottles of milk came and again we were given two bottles to feed 2 babies and then start on another two etc.
After evening meal those that could walked into the changing room, took off their clothes and then went into the bathroom and sat on a potty. It was quite a sight! The younger babies we were given to strip, clean with wet wipes and then dress for bed. We used disposable nappies on some and others had just a piece of cloth which we tied at the front and then some waterprof pants over the top. Big piles of clothes were brought out for us to dress the babies. Nia Florence and I set to work stripping , cleaning and dressing the babies. Once dressed we had to ask the name of the baby and then locate the cot and place them in pull over their mosquito net and start again. Once we had finished with the smaller babies we then had those who were on the potties to deal with. They had a shower then came running in wet ready to be dried and dressed. The older of these children stayed up a little longer.
In the middle of all this Thomas and Chris came to collect us but we were still knee deep in babies and toddlers all needing dressing etc. Consequently both Thomas and Chris set to work.
I was really conscious of wanting to interact with each child and treat treat them like a part on a conveyor belt. They were all really happy, wanted cuddles and very responsive which was lovely to see, just heart breaking listening to their horror stories, and not being able to give them all attention when they wanted it.
We eventually left the home when all were either in bed or ready for bed with our own children desperate to go back to help at breakfast the next morning which of course we did.
Breakfast ran very similarly to evening meal after which the potty / bath / dress scenario was repeated. Instead of going to bed at this point we started the trips to the 3 classrooms at the back of the building. It took quite a few trips to deliver all the children! Whilst I walked back and forth Thomas and Florence stayed in the youngest classroom to play with the children.
The home relies heavily on volunteers, in the evening there were only 4 or so of their staff to feed bath etc 49 babies.
We helped for another meal or two and delivered their wish list of nappies, milk, oil etc. in two parts for which Barbara and the staff were incredibly appreciative and grateful. We have been given a card of thanks for all those who have donated money. The reasons for the children ending up in this home are truly awful but the home does provide a safe and happy community for them. Hope all well? Just to let you know spent very wet night up in mountains, actually second wet night in a row! They try to reunite the babies with their families if at all possible but otherwise are managing to find adoptive or foster homes for the others both nationally and internationally. the home is run in a very organised manner where all the children are looked after. It is just very sad that these little babies don't get the attention they need in terms of affection and personal interaction. The home provides as much as it can but relies on volunteers to help out and to donate goods and clothes, all of which we did thank you very much to all of you who so generously donated before we left UK.
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