Last week I told you that Josiah is 3 years old. He is in fact 4 years old. And Maisy, rather than 6 months old, is 1 year old. I share these facts with you because it really sheds light on the reality of the situation here. Children's growth patterns and potential for development are really limited by the lack of resources and attention they receive. Maisy is definitely on track with a 6 month old's healthy development, but definitely not on track with a one year old's healthy development. At this point she should be standing her own if not walking, and babbling if not saying some words. She is doing neither. She can barely stand on her own holding on to the edge of the crib, let alone take steps in any direction. Her time is limited outside her crib, and the time she does get is usually in a little chair or bouncy seat. No opportunities for her to practice walking. Her vocalizations are limited to laughing and crying; no cooing or babbling, or pointing to things or waving.
What does this tell us? These kids are getting what some might call the "bare essentials" of life: water, food, shelter, clothing. But I say the bare essentials are so much more than that. The very word LIFE implies that something is thriving and growing. If we want Maisy to thrive and grow, she needs love and attention and comforting arms and tickling fingers and smiling faces and encouraging words and coaxing hands... So much more than water, food, shelter, and clothing.
Every day I go to the orphanage I am reminded, however harshly, why we need Hope Station; or rather, why these kids need Hope Station.
OK. Before I end this post, let me quick lighten the mood. This past week I tried something new: the parachute! This parachute was gifted to Hope Station by a wonderful donor before I left for China, and it has been a big hit. In fact, it has been one of the only activities during which they ALL sat still for more than 2 minutes at a time. We played some super simple games, that would be completely boring for most children. But when you have never seen a parachute in your life... That changes things. I called out actions like "Fast!" or "Slow!" or "Up!" while they tried to keep up. After a little while, I let some of the kids take turns giving directions. That was a big deal. Some of the boys are just hams and love the spotlight. So, enjoy the pictures and make sure to check out the video link to get a peek of this parachute adventure!