The light in this bedroom doesn’t turn all the way on unless you push it in with a wooden rod.I sleep on a single bed in the room with the older girls. You can see the blanket mattresses some of the girls put down on the floor at night folded on the top bunk in the following picture. There’s no air-conditioning, and unlike places such as Mexico where it gets cool at night, it remains roasting all night long, so we use an electric fan. I’m the kind of person who layers the covers on even in summer and has to sleep with at least a sheet and usually a blanket even when the AC is completely broken, but here I’ve been shocked that I haven’t slept under even a sheet and am sweltering if I wear long pajama pants rather than Capri’s, even if they’re loose. Bathing has been an interesting experience, but washing yourself out of a bucket is not really as bad as you might think. Believe it or not, I think I may even get a little cleaner bathing from a bucket because the soap really has a chance to lather up before it all gets washed away. I start to drip sweat right after I get out, but that’s beside the point. The actual bathing experience hasn’t been so bad. It is possible to put a plug-in heater in the bucket of water, but as you might have guessed, I haven’t really used it. I could almost recommend bucket bathing, but I think it would be a lot more difficult for people with creaking backs because I often like to put my head under the faucet when rinsing my hair and shoulders. That last sentence just made me sit here and think, hmm, if I’m getting under the faucet maybe I do like showers. Well, I tried. Using the toilet is also a bit different. I was quite glad to find out that I could in fact put toilet paper in the toilet (unlike Mexico); however, instead of using the handle to flush, you just dump a few scoops of water down the toilet. (And, actually, for some reason, the kids don’t even use toilet paper. I don’t know if they use the faucet bidet-style, but I haven’t really wanted to ask.) Between bathing and dumping water down the toilet, the floor is often wet, so you have to take off your shoes before going in the bathroom or it gets all muddy. And, sometimes just the dirt on your feet makes it muddy, and it’s really not that comfortable to step on the slippery, muddy floor, even though here they call bathrooms “comfort rooms.” (And, I would just like to state that this picture was an example, and I was only flushing water.) Both the boy and girl bathrooms don’t have toilet seats, which is common in public restrooms. (I also need to bring my own toilet paper to public restrooms.) The boys have to go to a little shed to use the bathroom. I thought it smelled really bad, but when Lee showed it to me, she said, “Hmm, it doesn’t smell right now. The boys must have just cleaned it.” I was thinking, Okay, if this is not smelling, I’ll be sure not to come in here again. The house is definitely crowded, but everyone does a great job at keeping up with their chores, and the house generally pretty well organized. However, I sincerely hope that someone, maybe even me, can help them find a way to raise money for land and buildings to make their lives better and even allow them to let in more of the street kids who come here but have to be turned away.
The biggest size house Matthew and Lee can afford to rent out with their limited (and almost non-existent) funding is really much too small to accommodate 30 kids. Imagine having 15 kids share a single bathroom. Matthew and Lee are currently paying $230 (U.S.) a month on rent, but if they were able to raise between $25,000 and $75,000, they could buy land and build a boys’ dorm, a girls’ dorm, an all-purpose building with a kitchen, and a staff apartment with an office.When you first walk into the main door of the orphanage, you find yourself in the kitchen/dining room which is attached to the living room/boys bedroom. These rooms are used for food preparation, homework, recreation, sleep, entertaining guests, storage, watching occasional movies, and other miscellaneous activities. The mattresses everyone sleeps on are pretty thin and according to the store employee we bought mine from, only last a month. Matthew asked the employee what we should do with the mattress after a month, and he said we could use it as a blanket. I thought it was a joke, but, no, actually after a month they turn into blankets. You can fold them up and everything. The girls sleep in two small bedrooms, and many of them also unfold these blanket mattresses and sleep on the floor so that everyone can fit. When Matthew and Lee first took over the orphanage, there were fewer kids and everyone had his or her own bed, but when they woke up in the morning all of the kids were in a ball together on the floor. Street kids are used to sleeping that way for protection. However, Matthew and Lee would still prefer it if the kids could have their own beds, but right now there just isn’t room.