Sunday, March 2, 2008

What I Didn't Know About Orphans....

When I got here, I was surprised to find out that an orphan by Ugandan standards is any child that has either one parent caring for them or no parents caring for them. I suppose, even if they have one parent, they consider them orphans because of the high rate of AIDS. I'm not sure. So, it becomes tricky when our village is looking for true orphans in need. Many would like their children to be here because of the education they receive. There is an intense screening process before a child is accepted into the village. I admire this organization because they desire to follow all of the proper protocol set by the government and are looking for children truly in need. Some children we accept do have a living parent or parents but that means they are dying of AIDS or are severely sick in some other capacity.

Second, I learned that in order to gain custody of a child here in Uganda, you must first foster them for three years in country. Then, after that three-year period, the case will be reevaluated and guardianship could be granted until the age of 18. This is one reason it is so difficult to adopt a Ugandan. So, Rafiki has custody of these children for three years and must appear before the court again to gain full guardianship. So far, there have been no incidents in which the relatives want the child back, but pray that continues to be the case.

Lastly, when I picture orphans, I envision malnourished children - skin and bones. I was surprised by the pictures of orphans and the ones that we have received who seem well-fed and, at times, even overweight. I was told that, despite looks, they are usually severely malnourished. Their diet is unhealthy - the bad carbohydrates - and the weight is not good weight. Once they come to Rafiki and begin eating the well-balanced meals provided here, the difference can be noticed.

I've learned a lot, and it's only been six weeks!

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

We will be praying for these situations and that everything will work out for the children there. Hopefully the government will grant Rafiki full guardianship! I am so proud of you and I hope you have a great week! Thanks for keeping us updated. Get some rest!! I love you always, Stephanie

Danielle said...

Hey Andrea - came across your blog. How awesome! What an amazing life experience. Wishing you strength and rest each day.

Cara said...

I'M SO HAPPY YOU ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME THERE.I AM ALSO HAPPY THAT YOU HAVE SOME NEW CHILDREN.I LOOK FORWARD TO MORE EXCITING STORIES.


THANKS FOR DOING THIS,
CARA GANOUDIS

CHARLEEN said...

WOW! I had no idea there was so much to do before adopting or taking guardianship of a Uganden child. I thank God for people like you and your peers!
Keep smiling :^)....its contagious and it brings happiness!! Charleen

Brandi said...

I was surprised by those things too!

Hey, is Rafiki a lot like Watoto?

Brandi

Jonathan said...

Hey Dre, I cannot believe it has already been 6 weeks. that is crazy. I am so glad to hear that you are leaning so much from this different culture. It is so interesting. I am doing me best to get my hands on a SKYPE so we can finally talk face to face (somewhat) lol. love you lots Dre, and have a great week. Talk to you soon! Love Jonathan