Life at The Noel Orphanage in Rwanda – Diary of Sharon Gallagher (Entry 3)

Saturday 23rd October 2010

Keep waking up earlier and earlier, and can’t stop going over everything we have seen.

Have put some dresses, trousers, shoes, tops and cardigans in a bag for older girls at the orphanage. Steven has also given some shirts and trousers. Also put in the freebies from the hotel to give out.

After seeing Madame Director, we set off for the market, and honestly it is such a different world. Kept looking all around me in disbelief. Bought over £1,000 of baby milk – all Nestle products! Prices so high – this can’t be right; there must be a better way. We bought milk in tiny tins as we would at home – this is madness. Will make enquiries when we get to UK. Nappies twice the price here!!

We asked Zebiah if we could actually give out the clothes that Steven and I had taken. She was very hesitant, but said yes. Maybe it was a bad idea – she obviously knew how difficult it would be.

We went to into the older girl’s room, and a big crowd gathered round. I took out the clothes, and we looked around at a sea of faces – all pleading with their eyes for me to give the things to them.

I feel physically sick as I write this. I gave a top to a girl who put it on straight away – it was too small, but she looked thrilled with it and beamed. Another girl had a black cardigan, and stretched it on as I said to Zebiah, maybe it was too small, the girl made sure it fit her – she had no intention of taking it off.

As the items went, we were down to the last few items of slippers, pens, toiletries from the hotel. There was a sense of desperation with everyone starting to grab at the items – snatching at the mending kit, cotton bud pack and soap. It was awful and pitiful – I was choking back tears as Steven looked on, knowing that it was killing me inside.

As we moved to the boys section Zebiah suggested Steven’s shirts should go to a mentally ill boy. He was brought outside and took the shirt and put it on over his own clothes. He looked very pleased with himself.

Zebiah suggested that we give the trousers to a boy who had been looking at us with a pleading look. Steven said that they would be too big for him “don’t worry, he will get a belt” she said.

They would have drowned him, but he was happy to have them. It was all so upsetting.

We said our goodbyes to everyone and left at 3.30pm – only half an hour late.

At dinner at the hotel I felt I would choke on my food. Whilst we were now in relative luxury, the children were still at the home in absolute poverty, and would be now and every day until their late teens and beyond.

All evening Steven and I exchanged silent glances that told me that he felt the same way – guilty.