The Journey Part 3

They say a picture paints a thousand words and how I wish I could show you pictures~ complete with sounds and scents of the early days in the hospital. However, because the hospital I work in is a State hospital and the children are in the State's care I cannot show pictures that would in any way identify them. I also have to be very discreet of what pictures I have of the hospital itself. Therefore, I will have to attempt to paint a word picture for you of my first weeks in the Pediatric Hospital in Oradea.

My friend Abbey and I had met up with Michelle (our director) gone to the hospital and tentatively followed Michelle through the hospital to Dr. Enicho's office. We met the doctor we would be under, who seemed overjoyed that we would be helping. I remember feeling like I was in a daze, smiling and trying to follow the conversation going on around me. My mind was racing though as I looked at the dingy walls, the old furniture and the tired drapes at the office windows. "What kind of hospital is this?", I thought. The hallways had been worse~ tiles missing on the floors, only a few bulbs hanging from the ceiling by wires (clearly a violation of fire code!) and paint peeling off the walls. Surely, the babies' rooms were better...

Dr. Enicho told us that we could begin work in one room with three of the abandoned babies. There were three rooms total for these "social babies" and we were welcome to hold the babies in the other rooms too if we wished. She led us from her office and across the hall to the first room and asked us to enter. The haze that surrounded me was shattered as every sense in my body was assaulted. The smell of urine,sweat and feces hung heavy in the hot, vent-less room. Babies' cries pierced through the fog and became a sound that has haunted many of my dreams since. Some of the babies lay motionless and without blinking; their clothes cast offs from someone else and so full of holes that most of us would not even dust with them! Their precious faces were gaunt~ no chubby smiles greeted us. The cribs were relics from the 1940's or '50's and the paint was chipping off the metal into piles around the room. Small cockroaches scuttled into corners; they seemed to be the only thing active in the room.

The doctor was talking on as my mind grappled with everything I was seeing and experiencing. I felt like gagging, but the tears that were forming in my eyes threatened even more! I finally managed to ask the doctor what she would like us to do. Kindly, she stated that we could do whatever we wanted to do to help the babies, but she had no supplies to give us. In resignation, she went on to say that holding and touching them was probably the best thing- the only thing- we could do. She explained that the hospital did not have enough funding and there was no spare soap, shampoo, diapers, wipes or anything else we consider normal baby essentials. She thanked us again before she and Michelle left. Abbey and I stared at each other speechless then at those precious little ones that only knew this horrid existence that they called life.

We now had a task but we were unsure of how to begin...

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Project Hope for the Children is a non-profit ministry that seeks to mobilize the generosity of donors to provide for the tangible needs of orphans, disadvantaged children, and at-risk families in Romania, Puerto Rico, and Beyond.

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