Last week I wrote about one particular day. Here is what happened after dinner.
As it turned out there really was no one working in the elementary boys side that night. After dinner is usually shower time, and even with an 엄마 it can be hectic (it depends on which 엄마 is there)!
The kids don’t really wash every day. Often they do little more than splash some water around their waists. Shower time is not managed well. Granted, it is a big undertaking. Some parents struggle with just a few of their own kids, but 20+ kids is a whole different battle. And only the oldest kids really do it themselves. 1st-3rd and sometimes 4th graders are washed by an adult. It struck me as odd when I first saw it happen, but it is indicative of an aspect of Korean culture, and perhaps living in an orphanage. Since no staff was around the fell falls to me. Of course, kids are also supposed to be doing some homework, but that definitely didn’t happen.
After cleaning up from dinner, Josh (my friend who also volunteers there) and I announce that it time to wash . Starting with 1st graders. One of them is obedient and goes right in, but the other tries to object saying he washed two days ago, so he doesn’t need to tonight. After much cajoling (forcing) he surrendered. It was slow going all the way up the line.
In the middle of all this one of the staff members finally appears with all of the pre-school kids in tow. Apparently there was a staffing shortage that night, and he would have to watch all of the kids for a time. So he brought the little ones over to the elementary boys house with a movie to pacify everyone. But his movie choice … Die Hard 4 is probably not one that I would show kids.
I don’t mind being a firm figure in their lives, they certainly need it, but I cannot do that for them 24-7. Often I feel like I don’t have any solutions either, and staff shortages are a real problem! That day gave a bigger picture for the magnitude of their circumstances. There is nothing easy about their life. I can intersect it from time to time, but they need positive input on a daily and sustained basis!