We were in the bedroom to finish assessing two older children. Everything was almost done, and all I was needed for was translating here and there. I eased my weary body onto a blue plastic chair and glanced around.
Cribs – fresh, white and clean, lined the walls. Most of the cribs were empty because the children were having their potty/TV-time out in the hallway, but two beds were occupied. A little boy, just small enough to fit into the crib, lay still except for twitches and his watchful eyes. His feet were in casts and the nannies said that he was almost ready to be released from the white plaster. After that? I don’t know… cognitively he didn’t look like he was a preschool student, but you never know.
In the other bed was the most gorgeous little girl, who giggled with happiness when we looked at her, tickled her and stroked her face. But she wasn’t giggling as I glanced at her this time… she was crying.
“May I hold her?”
Sometimes I’m hesitant to ask when I don’t know the nannies well – will they say yes? What do they think of the pale foreigner girl picking up their sickest? What if disgusts them and doors close?
But usually, nine times out of ten, the nannies nod and smile. Sometimes their smiles are sad, sometimes happy, often they are distracted.
I picked her up and she sighed. Her breath was slow and deep and she gazed up at me. Her long eyelashes framed perfectly round eyes and just then she looked so perfect. But a weak and failing body is a reality for so many, too many, orphans. After not even half and hour of cuddles she was weary and I lay her back in her bed. She fussed, silenced, I stroked her cheek and she giggled.
Today, say a prayer – believe a hope – for the little ones laying alone in their beds. Will you do that? For her?