Our nannies are the best. Wanna know how I know? We have content, well cared for babies who receive loads of loves, hugs and kisses. Families attest when they get their little ones home that their babies and toddlers respond in ways that let them know that their emotional needs have been met. I am continually impressed with these women who raise the children in our Widows and Orphans Homes, and I have had a lot of opportunity to observe. The nannies are so proud when a child first rolls over or gets his first tooth. They love to make the children laugh and delight in their individual personalities.
The nannies in our centers work twelve hour shifts and they are in constant motion. There is one nanny per three children and to watch the three work together to care for nine babies is similar to watching a beautifully choreographed dance. While one is changing a baby and washing a little bottom, another is holding and feeding a two-month-old with an eight-month-old trying to crawl on her lap. The third nanny is preparing the next round of bottles while rolling balls to toddlers. At one point in the morning after breakfast and baths, all the children are on a mat on the floor and the nannies sit with them and sing and play and comfort. They encourage them to sit up, to begin crawling, or steady the one who is on the verge of walking. It is play time and the children love the attention.
All the centers have a woman who washes all the clothes by hand. Yes, even all the diapers! She scrubs outside in a wash basin and hangs everything on the line to dry. We are hoping we can eventually buy a washing machine for our largest home in Adama... it is needed! Just think how much laundry you have with just one baby and multiply that by ten! Whew!
The shift change in any of our Widows and Orphans Homes is one of my favorite times. It is a time of worship and celebration and very often is a prayer time as well as a time for one to share from the word. The day shift and the night shift all together sing and pray with the little ones in and out between their legs or this one or that one gathered up in loving arms without missing a beat of the song. The children and their needs are brought before God's throne as well as the needs of each other. The day shift changes from their uniform (scrubs) and puts on their street clothes for the walk to their homes while three other nannies pick up seamlessly with the evening routine of dinner, bath and bedtime.
Here's a little video clip from one of the worship times at a change in shifts...
I wish I could introduce you to all the wonderful women who take care of our children. Since that is not possible, I am going to brag on two of the nannies so you can get an idea of the character we look for when we hire women for the most important position in our orphanages.
Bezuia is one of our angels. She has been with us from the beginning and her heart for children is remarkable. But what sets her apart is the loving care she gives to those who are sick... sometimes really sick. We had one fragile baby boy who was born with a heart disorder. He was constantly in the hospital with pneumonia and couldn't gain weight. Bezuia stayed at his bedside 24/7. We tried to get her to go home, but she would have none of it. This little guy was constantly poked and probed and his big eyes followed her every move and he found comfort only in her arms. We had a little girl who was brought to us when she was very sick. Who was the nanny who diapered her, bathed her and made sure she was cuddled and loved? Bezuia was her special nanny. Just recently, one of our little ones got pneumonia and was hospitalized. Bezuia would work her twelve hour day shift and then volunteer to spend the night with Miss "C" in the hospital. You can see how this woman has won a permanent place of honor in my heart.
Tiny Tigist is another woman that is a rock. I call her tiny because she maybe is five feet tall, but her energy is huge. The children adore her! Her calm, gentle spirit permeates the nursery and things just seem to be happier when she is about. Tigist is not married and lives with her brother and his family and by her admission says caring for the orphaned children in her community is what God has called her to do.
She takes her calling seriously. Tigist is a woman of hospitality, too, and she loves to greet visitors with a coffee ceremony and popcorn or roasted corn-on-the-cob and it is not unusual to be invited to her and her brother's house for dinner. The other nannies rely on her organization and Tigist exemplifies what I call servant leadership. Others just naturally want to follow her lead. She is a jewel.
One of the ways our families have shown their great appreciation for the care they know their children received when they were in our orphanages is by sending pictures to the nannies of the children now in the US. Imagine what a blessing it is to see pictures of the children they loved and cared for - and often tearfully said good-bye to!
Next month a women's mission team is traveling to Ethiopia and they'll be having a blessing party for the nannies in our Adama orphanage. We're so excited to shower our love and appreciation of these beautiful women!