Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What is it Like to Live in an Orphanage

Before I go any farther I would like to explain one thing. I am not telling the story now because I need to heal. I am telling the story because I have healed and am now free to tell the story. You see, I have learned some really valuable lessons through the years. I want to be able to share those lessons, but if you have no clue where I am coming from you might not understand. I feel so blessed to have learned these lessons. This might be therapeutic for me but that's not the reason. I want to empower others to be free.

The picture above is an artist rendering of the "HOME" My sibs and I just received this recently. So, what is it like to live in an orphanage? Good question. It was an institution not a home. Each floor was run by an "Aunt" In the four years I was there we had multiple "Aunts". It was her job to make things run smoothly. Next to each bed was a tiny nightstand where we had our underpants and undershirts. Everything else was out of the dorm room and down the hall. Picture a very large closet with racks on three of the walls. The shoes were lined up on the floor all around the closet. You picked out a dress and a pair of shoes. SO the only thing that was yours was your underpants and undershirts. You didn't even have your own shoes! The clothes came from people donating used clothes.

So let me stop for a moment and climb up on my soap box. I was the kid who wore those yucky old hand me downs. We all looked like orphans. When we walked to school (yes we walked on the side of the road) we looked like a bunch of orphans. When hubby and I decided to do foster care I turned down all requests for used clothes. I know that there are lovely used clothes but what we got was not lovely. To top it off, we were sent to school with very large black metal lunch boxes, the kind construction workers used to carry. When you give to people less fortunate please don't give them crummy clothes! Rant over

 Each dorm had a bathroom. The bathroom was quite large. Right smack in the middle of the room was a contraption that might be hard to explain. Picture a huge ceramic bowl up high with a very large round, metal tube coming up from the floor to above the bowl. At the top of the  tube there is a shower head of sorts. It is round and pretty big in diameter. Five or six of us at a time would climb up into the bowl and sit. Someone would hold down a round rubber ring by the floor and water would sprinkle out of the top of the tube. Hope that makes sense. So that is how you got clean, with other girls sitting in a huge bowl with water sprinkling out of a head. There were three stalls with toilets and 2 or three showers with a curtain.

I'm telling you that because there is an incident that has always stayed with me. Obviously sitting in that "tub' there was zero privacy. One of the older girls who had just started puberty and mentally slow decided one day that she was not getting in the tub with us. She said she wanted to take a shower alone. She said she was too old to be sitting in that thing naked. The "Aunt" took a broom handle and started chasing her around the tub with us in it. She was yelling for her to get in and she was screaming no she wouldn't.  This went on for quite a while. To tell you the truth I have no recollection who won that battle.

Speaking of battles, food was a battle. You had to eat everything on your plate, period. We had canned peas a lot. I can't handle the smell let alone the taste of canned peas. In fact my children grew up without experiencing canned peas. Since we had to eat everything I would drop one onto my lap at a time and then flick them in all directions under the table, trying hard not to be caught. On top of that the "Aunt" felt it was necessary to give us these huge horse pills that to this day I can still smell them if I remember them. I could not swallow pills as a child. I would gag and throw up. They had zero tolerance for any of my monkey shines. We would all stand in a line by the water fountain. We would be given the pill and take a drink and then open our mouths to show we had swallowed it. I got pretty stinking good at cheeking them. I would promptly go into the bathroom and go into the stall and spit it out. They also believed everyone needed an enema when you had any kind of illness. The indignity of it all. I can chuckle about it now but not so much then.

In reality, these "Aunts" weren't bad people, they just had no clue how to care for a boat load of children who were broken. Out of all the Aunts we had, one stood out. One night we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. I was scared to death. She was an unmarried young woman. Her room was at the very front of the dorm room. I thought it was time to go down to the dining hall to set the table but it was still the middle of the night. I must have woken her up. She let me crawl in bed with her and she sang me the books of the Bible song. That was the one kindness I saw. Unfortunately she didn't stay long.

Several more stories tomorrow and then I will tell the story of how my siblings and I left the orphanage.

Many blessings to you all.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the next part. I don't like that orphanage, I can't wait for you to get out of there! :)