I am finally back at this internet cafe after several days of busyness. Yesterday we once again hiked in Boquete, a mountain town about 1 hour from David, where there are nice trails and beautiful scenery. It was good to get out and see the country, although I am getting good at getting around by bus in the busy, confusing city.
5 mornings a week I am volunteering with another woman at a nutrition rehab center. For reasons of confidentiality I cannot send pictures of the children, but I would love to be able to show the look in their eyes. there is such a look of sadness and in some, emptyness. There are all very beautiful children who are a delight to be with. I soemtimes think that there bodies are being nourished but wonder about their souls.
This place has about 40 children, mostly native, who are in various states of malnutriton, which in many cases, has stunted their physical and intellectual growth. They are far from their families and so spend a lot of time alone in cribs, waiting to be fed and cared for , and starving for the few minutes of attention and affection that the staff can give them when they have time. Our help seems to be appreciated as there is a never-ending list of things to do, the least of which is changing the many wet cloth diapers that the children go through. When the work is done we try to get to the playroom to play, cuddle and sing to the children that can go there. Many of the younger and weaker ones spend hours in their cribs, and once picked up for a cuddle, scream when put down. There seems to be a lack of arms to hold and touch the children. A program of holding and doing infant massage would be great here as would more time and equipment for reading, playing, building blocks and just normal developmentally appropriate play. There does not seem to be a local volunteer group who provides a regular presence so I wonder what happens when after seven weeks we also leave. The work that is done here is very important, and the fact that we are able to help even a little bit is rewarding.