Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Amani Baby Cottage

"Since all living beings - animals, birds, insects and human beings - are worthy of compassion, the realm of compassion is very vast. The pilgrimage to the domain of compassion is an auspicious one, because compassion also embraces strangers - not just those close to us" Swami Shri Kripaluanadji

The moment you walk through the gates of the Amani baby cottage, you can hear laughter float through the yard. Amani is home to the many babies, toddlers, house mommies, garden keepers and volunteers who share their love in one family. It is run by an American woman who has made Uganda her home and opened her doors to over 60 babies ranging from newborns, to babies with AIDS, to young children with developmental disabilities - everyone is loved. Many of the children come in severely malnourished and ill and find medical care, love, food and a home. The gardens look out over the Nile River in Jinja - a beautiful oasis! The drive to Jinja was like coming home - somewhere I had seen before in my dreams.

I spent a few days in Jinja last week visiting my friend Rebecca who is volunteering at Amani. It was an honour to meet the babies and learn their stories. Many had been left behind, some had parents in prison, one baby was recovered after the mother had tried to put her down the toilet. Steven, a young autistic child ran through the garden trying with all his heart to communicate through sounds - his father left him once he found out he had a developmental disability. All run on donations, they try to find homes for all of the babies.

The children are beautiful - as soon as an adult comes their way, they try to get their attention - a result of severe neglect...most of them suffer from extreme attachment issues! One day we took a couple of the babies and toddlers and Steven down to the Source of the Nile - They love getting special attention.

Many of the babies have gone to good homes in the US, however, it is currently very difficult for Canadians to adopt children (unless you have a lot of money, or connections in the Canadian system) As of now, a Canadian must live for 3 years in Uganda with the child before they are able to obtain adoption papers. A few Canadian families have managed to find loopholes in the system and avoided this residency.

The babies at Amani really need someone in Canada to sort this out and change the Canadian system. It is possible with enough dedication! The more babies they can find homes for, the more babies they can bring in.....they are waiting at the gates!

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