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Experience at the Royal Seed Home

Written by Jenny Chen This past week, we went to Royal Seed Home, an orphanage home to 120 children, located about an hour away drive from our house. We and the social workers, Florence, Grace, Harinu, and Abe worked from 9AM to 4PM from Monday to Friday, tracking each child, transporting them from one station to the next, interviewing them formally and informally, and scanning all of documents in their files. Because there are only three social workers interviewing at a time, the children would line up and wait for their turn and we, the interns, had the opportunity to interact with them. Many of the children had marks that resembled white scabs intended into their legs and arms. Flies would land on the babies until someone swatted them away. One boy limped the entire time, his ankle completely swollen and covered in blood. Almost all of the children were soft-spoken and shy, but once or twice a smile would flash across their faces, whether it was when they posed for the camera, or when the interns gave them high-fives after their interviews. At first, it was difficult to communicate with them. I tried asking them questions like what their favorite fruit was or what their favorite Ghanian dish was, and sometimes the children replied, with lips barely moving, whispering “mango” or “jollof”. My interactions at the beginning felt simple, hollow, and empty. I stopped asking straightforward questions, and instead found ways to engage the kids through children’s games. While the kids were waiting for their interviews, we played rock-paper-scissors, Miss Mary Mack, and drew pictures on a whiteboard to form stories. The children quickly opened up, talking and laughing, and headed to their interviews in smiles. After our fourth day at the orphanage, we successfully interviewed all the children and scanned all of their documents, and on the last day, the children of the orphanage performed a Ghanian dance for us. After their performance, we spent an hour hanging out with them – playing soccer and Ampe, a Ghanian game where two people jump in rhythm. I held a baby boy for the first time. When we had to leave after bonding with the kids for the past hour, it was difficult to say bye to them, knowing that I won’t see them ever again. This feeling of melancholy, something that we had been warned against during our training, grew fainter and fainter as our bus drove further away from the orphanage, and became replaced with hope, hope that we made a difference to the lives of these kids, hope that the interviews and CPQs open new doors for the children, and hope that ways of care other than the orphanage will be found for them, regardless of how long it will take.

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