Here is a perfect opportunity to care for children who need it
About a week ago I received information about an single American woman in her twenties who is caring for triplets from Uganda and after living with them for a few years in the US went back to Uganda and is helping to run an orphanage for babies. What follows is her first newsletter and then a list of opportunities to help. I'd appreciate anyone forwarding this info. on to folks who might be able to help.
Annie and Moses
Annie and her girls
Newsletter February 2008
Hi Friends and Family, I often find myself wondering how someone is doing and wanting to send an email, but I’ve lost touch with so many of you that I didn’t know where to start. So in order to play catch-up, here’s an explanation of why I now call a messed-up East African country home.
I frequently get asked by visiting foreigners why I’m here and doing what I do. I find it difficult to answer, largely due to the fact that I never really ‘decided’ to do any of this. Rather, the last 5 years of my life has taken shape by just taking the next most logical step. I guess really that’s what happens to most people in their 20’s. They graduate with a degree in the field they studied, and so of course will look for a job in that area. They’re in love with a great person and so they marry them. They have a couple kids, so they get a bigger house and vehicle.
For me, the next most logical steps just took me on a road less traveled. I left college when I realized my get-me-through-college job was something I loved. Working with preemie multiples (twins, triplets, etc) gave me travel opportunities, freedom in my schedule, good income, and most of all was something I loved doing. A few years later, with good savings in the bank, a short jaunt to volunteer in an African orphanage seemed to make sense. When faced with dying twins who would only survive if I took them home with me, of course I did just that. When their medical and care added up to over $50,000 my only option was to keep them in the US while trying to pay it off. Four years later when they could no longer legally stay in the US, we got on a plane back to Africa. When bound to Africa by beurocracy and red tape, the logical thing was to accept one of the first jobs offered to me.
And that’s the short version of how I’ve ended up living in Uganda looking after 3 little girls and 83 abandoned infants. I’ve been here for well over a year now and most days I still wonder what the heck happened to my semi-normal life. While most days are ridiculously exhausting and frustrating, I’m thrilled to be on this ride. Boring it never is! I opened the orphanage for abandoned infants on Jan 15 and after getting 7 the first week, arrivals were slow and steady giving us about 30 babies by last summer. Must be something about 9 months after drunken Christmas parties, but the babies started pouring in August and haven’t stopped since. I reset the original capacity of 60 to 75, but recent newborn arrivals Katie, Daisy, Charlie, Jack, Anthony, Emmanuel, and twins Ethan and Ellie didn’t seem to care that we were full. My babies are left in third world hospitals or found in dumpsters, pit latrines, cemeteries, on the side of the road, and in buckets of water. They come in as 2 lb preemies, barely breathing newborns with untied umbilical cords, malnourished 8 month olds, and terrified 18 month twins. They struggle with cerebral palsy, hydrocephaly, club feet, burns, hernias, and broken bones. A rare one is healthy and happy and we wonder what caused someone to abandon an obviously well looked after baby. Sometimes babies come to us when it is too late and while we do everything we can, they don’t make it. Others succumb to third world diseases with third world medical care. Our local drive through coffin shop has had our business more than I’d like. However, when they are faced with life as an African orphan with AIDS, I’m sometimes happy to see an early end to their struggle and take comfort in the fact that they died warm, fed, clean, and very much loved.
Anyway, I’ll probably be sending random updates now that I’ve given a little background to my crazy life. Let me know if you have no clue who I am, or don’t want to receive emails for any reason and I’ll remove you from my list. Thanks so much to those of you who have supported me with emails, prayers, and financial support and I’m so sorry I rarely have the time to tell you what a difference it makes! Better close now, just got a phone call that newborn baby 84 is waiting to be picked up. The fun never ends.
Preemie Baby Daisy
Reality is that I now have 88 infants I'm responsible for.
Reality is that at least 6 of those should be admitted in a neonatal or pediatric ICU.
Reality is that we have a staff of 70ish that come with more problems than the babies and have to be handled like 5 year olds.
Reality is that two of my babies just had surgery and both came home with double casts on their legs.
Reality is that my car is in the shop and I'm walking everywhere.
Reality is that there was a baby snake in the laundry and I'm wondering where the mother is.
Reality is that I wonder daily if there is any hope for these people.
Reality is that we do 372 laundry loads, 12,648 bottle feeds, and 16,368 diaper changes per month Reality is that both my laptops have crashed.
Reality is that I've been asked by the government and the organization I work for to open two more baby orphanages.
Reality is that I'm really tired, really stressed, and really overwhelmed.
I lost a little friend this morning. He was born one month and 7 days ago, a preemie. His mother is dying of HIV and is admitted in the hospital. He was fed only when she was strong enough and felt like feeding him, about once every 24 hours. We found this out after about two weeks when he had lost almost half of his body weight. When we could spare a nanny or when my friend Nicola or I had the time, we would go and feed him. He never had any diapers and would be laying in a filthy stinky incubator. He LOVED a bath and lotion massage and being wrapped in clean blankets and clothes. His incubator didn't work and his body temp was usually 32C (88F) so we would fill gloves with warm water and lay them next to him. He had meningitis that required once daily IV drugs. The nurses would only give him this every 2-3 days when we put pressure on them. He was so stiff from the meningitis and so skinny from starvation that he developed bedsores on his hips. The doctors notes yesterday said 'Baby looks stable. PLEASE GIVE THE IV DRUGS'. Last night I meant to go check on him, but was too tired. I arrived at the hospital to bathe and feed him this morning, 1 hour after his body was moved from his incubator to 'the bucket'. His death certificate said he died from meningitis. It should have said he died from lack of drugs, warmth, food, and love. He didn't have a name.
Reality is I feel guilty.
Annie's Little Friend
Annie's List of Ways You Can Help….
1) You can send a one time financial donation to the babies home. This is best sent to Watoto’s office in the country you live in. I have a list of needed items/projects that are outside of what sponsorship covers or are items that cannot be purchased in Uganda. This is currently being updated, but I can send it through if anyone is interested as soon as I’m finished. Then you can pick an item off the list or if you tell me a dollar amount, I can tell you our biggest need at the time. People tend to like this option because they know exactly what their money went to. If you do this, please let me know, so I can be in touch with the country office to tell them whether to send the money (if it is an item that can be bought here) or to keep it at their office if it is an item I need to purchase there and have sent.
2) You can sponsor the babies home at http://www.watoto.com/ and send support monthly.
3) You can send a physical donation to the babies home. I also have a list of physical items we use and need here that you can purchase and send, or send if you already have them. If you contact the local office for your country (http://www.watoto.com/) they can tell you an address of someone coming over here in the near future and you can ship them items, rather than shipping them to Uganda (expensive and unreliable).
4) You can support me and my girls. I am employed by Watoto to direct the babies home which means I receive a fair local salary. Initially this was sufficient to cover our very basic needs, however I couldn’t afford to send the girls to school or hire a quality teacher/nanny, let alone any extra activities, car repairs, etc. Thanks to a corrupt new tax law put in place in September, I now loose over half my salary to this lovely government. This means that I’m actually going into more and more debt every month I stay and am having to reconsider my future here. We are moving into a cheaper flat and cutting corners where we can, but still struggling. So I could pretty desperately use any help in this area. This can be sent to my parents at:
6416 Latta Springs Circle
Huntersville NC 28078
5) You can send an ‘anything’ donation to my parents at the above address and I can designate it where appropriate. I’m surrounded by great and genuine need. Often I encounter a situation that doesn’t fit our organization and have really appreciated having a bit on hand to help out. For example, I’ll be told that there are preemie triplets in the hospital, but they have a mother who wants them, so we can’t take them. However this mother will have been abandoned by the husband/boyfriend and will have no money for food, which means she has no breast milk to feed her babies. I’ll buy her some meals in the hospital, so she can feed her babies and take them back to the village.
I used to and still do, REALLY struggle with asking for financial help. Growing up, I often heard missionary types asking for money and thought ‘They are off doing the fun stuff and they want us to work our boring jobs and support them???’ However, I’ve learned a couple important things in the last couple years.
1)Most of it is NOT fun stuff.
2)Even the stuff I find enjoyable, most other people don’t. I’ve finally realized that there are people who want to help, but actually don’t want to be stuck in Africa. If you are one of those, I’m happy to be the hands doing the work if you want to be the fuel behind them!
Thanks so much…!!