We visit another building a little distance from the Home for the Dying. We open a door and are immediately greeted by a small toddler reaching up. Without thinking I pick him up. He is pointing outside. He cannot play outside today because it has rained and there are puddles on the ground and the sisters are worried about the electric wires that hang loosely from the building all around. He will not let me go and puts a foot lock around my waist. There are many like him teetering about in one room with several women caring for them.
We go upstairs where there are four rooms full of cribs. So many babies. They all wear cotton diapers, probably made by the lepers, and no rubber pants, yet they are all clean. Again, all laundry is done by hand. That thought alone overwhelms me. The children smile and reach for you when you walk by. You can tell that they have been loved and cared for because they are so responsive. There is an obvious absence of toys. There is a record player playing nursery songs. The older children pull up in their cribs and dance to the music.
Occasionally, someone cries and one of the women will coo and cuddle up with them until they are quiet. Some women have babies in their laps. One is cutting a child’s toenails. We are told that there are no “very sick” ones now. I notice one child with a cleft palate and one with a broken leg in a body cast. There is also a baby in the newborn room who has a temperature and one who is under the incubator light. There are twins who have a picture tied to their crib of their “mommy and daddy.” We are told that they have been adopted but are awaiting all the mounds of paperwork necessary before they can go to their families.
What happens to the rest of them, I wonder? We are told that many will be adopted and the rest will be cared for by other services when they get too old for the nursery. They are beautiful. Bo and I want to take them home with us, especially one little boy we affectionately named Antonio (as in Banderas). We love and hug and play with them all as long as we can; until we have to go. We take the images of their faces with us.