6am: The sun is about to rise, and so are the little angels of Othandweni. One by one, the toddlers languorously open their eyes in their cradle. The (still) peaceful nursery is about to get ready for a bright new day.
7am: Splish! Splash! Splosh! Let’s clean up those kiddos! One at a time, the children jump into the bathtub and get soaped from head to toe. After meticulously choosing their outfit for the day (hey, they have to match!) I carefully dress my little ones. Thanks to the generous community of Soweto that keeps filling the orphanage’s bottomless closets!
8am: Time to feed those hungry little mouths! I prepare thirty bowls of oatmeal that disappear in no time! It’s not long before I have to take the napkins and the mop out…
9am: Let’s go play with the Grannies! Othandweni introduced the Granny Program in 2011 which consists of volunteer grandmothers (or gogo as they say in Zulu) from the community that come and spend quality time with a specific child. The program enables these children to learn how to form positive social attachments that are a key to early childhood development.
12pm: Lunch time! The older kids eat at their designated little colorful tables while we bottle-feed the babies. All the meals at the orphanage are prepared with love by cooks. We just have to make sure everyone has a full belly and a smile on their face!
1:30pm: Zzzzzz Children are put into bed for a couple of hours of snoozing while the staff and volunteers can relax. I take advantage of this break to go running or workout at the gym. No matter where I am on the globe, the athlete in me will always find a time to move!
3:30pm: After waking up, the toddlers are sent outside to get some fresh air. Back from school, the older kids come and play with their little brothers and sisters. Years after years, the orphans have developed a strong relationship between each other. There is a beautiful family spirit at Othandweni.
5pm: Yet another meal to prepare, mouths to feed and floor to clean. A hectic and demanding but essential task at the orphanage (but so it is at home!).
7pm: Once everyone is cleaned, dressed up and ready to go night-night, it’s a pyjama party in the nursery! While the babies are gently falling asleep in their cribs, the older ones are treated with a bedtime story and lullaby (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is their all-time favorite!). One by one, children are put to bed. Sweet dreams little friends, La La Land is waiting for you!