Cris in Ethiopia

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Orphanage Nuts and Bolts

Posted by Cris on June 1, 2007

I had a long talk with one of the admin staff at one of the orphanages yesterday, which shed some light on the confusing world of orphanages. The orphanage has recieved two new children in the past week, so I was asking about where they came from, and how they get accepted.

The children, to be accepted, have to be first shown to be HIV positive. Next, the subcity they live in and the kebele, like a neighborhood organization, both have to write letters stating that these kids have no parents and that their current caretakers dont have the means to care for them in the long term. After this one or two employess of the orphanage go to the child’s house, check it out, talk to the family, talk to the neighbors, and generally validate and evaluate the stories theyve heard. Then the application is discussed, and the admin staff decide whether to accept the child or not. This seems like it might be a fairly straigforward process, but remember this is happening in Addis Ababa, so the paperwork and timeline for getting things done are a lot longer.

Things are complicated by the fact that there are fewer orphanages that will accept HIV positive kids than regular orphanages. This orphanage has an agreement with another orphanage, so they will take HIV+ kids who end up at the other orphanage, but regularly they do not take kids from other organizations because they want to save their spaces for kids coming from the community. Most orphanages who get HIV+ kids, then, seem to get them by mistake, as the other orphanages dont accept HIV+ kids. The exception to this rule is the Mother Theresa orphanage, that as far as Ive heard accepts everyone regardless. Im not sure if they are able to move non HIV kids to other orphanages, or if all the kids stay there. 

What happens if a child is turned down at the orphanage? The woman I talked to said they usually help in some way, whether it be medical help or otherwise. Some “families”- aunts and uncles, or neighbors, caring for children after their parents die or abandon them- are deemed to have the means to care for the children. Im not sure where the line is drawn however.

Its all very complicated, and I sure wouldnt want the job of deciding who can come and who stays with their “family”. The reality is that there are tons of orphans being supported in the community who arent in orphanages, as well as many who slip through the cracks and are lost. Im trying to set up appointments to tour other orphanges, and Ill report with more info when I have it.

Over and out.   


One Response to “Orphanage Nuts and Bolts”

  1. mom said

    awhile back you commented on your best and worst day, the mother trying to give away her child, while new parents were coming to get a new child, whatever happened to the mother who was dieing? my heart and love go out to you and what you are seeing. love mom xxxooo

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