"It's a dangerous business, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there's no knowing where you might be swept off to..."
--J.R.R. Tolkein

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Irony of the Orphanage

One of the other things we did in Harar was check out an orphanage, run by the British organization SOS. I was definitely expecting something along the Dickensian line, with haggard little faces lining up with empty plates, and ruthless adults patrolling the hallways. However, what I saw was something very different.

I suspect nobody had ever said, “Please, sir, I want some more” at this place.

We were shown to a modern, Western-looking office, introduced to the director, and then were shown to the “houses,” where the children lived. About eight children occupied a house, which had comfortable rooms, a dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. There was also a woman who lived in the house full time, whom the children called “mother,” who took care of them, cooked for them, and made sure they did their homework. The mother that we met said that she had grown children of her own who lived in Addis Ababa, but she definitely saw these children she cared for now as her own as well.

Then we wandered over to the school, just as the high school students were leaving their classes for the day. We walked past a crowd of smiling girls and boys in crisp, clean blue and white uniforms. At the school, we met a few teachers, who spoke English well and seemed passionate about their subjects.

It seemed like such a lovely place for a child to grow up. The catch? They only take babies.

After our tour, we left and headed back to the center of town, passing a few dirty street children on the way. I have heard that these children actually have parents, but are sent to the streets by their parents to beg for money to buy the family's food. Ironically, these children were the ones holding out their hands, asking for more.


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  2. It seems that the orphanage provides a safer place for the kids from the harshness of the outside world..

  3. Ugh... Nothing is simple is it?

  4. Hi Sophia

    Good to hear that you enjoyed the SOS Village in Harar. If you want to have a look at another SOS programme you can also visit the village in Hargeisa (in the Man-Soor end of town). I'll be happy to give you the contacts.