Jennifer Carpenter
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Little Baby Christina

December 8, 2009 @ 6:50 AM | Permalink

At one month old, Christina can put up a fight. 

She is misleadingly adorable in her fuzzy, pink pajamas. She seems so very cuddly and sweet nestled in her yellow blanket, snuggled alongside a dozen or so babies in this warm, dimly lit room. Nurses in faded blue scrubs are shuffling around her – rocking these creaking, wooden cradles in a drowsy sort of calm. Christina is the newest member of the Angel's Cradle Program, the only ward for abandoned babies in Albania. Tonight I followed Claudia, a new friend and founder of the Organization for the Support of Albania's Abandoned Babies to the University Hospital of Obstetrics. She took me on a tour of her life's work: establishing a center for abandoned children. When Claudia arrived in Albania in the early 1990s, she was shocked to discover abandoned babies were only fed rice water, wore no clothes or diapers, and were never given names. She has worked tirelessly to change the hospital's, and Albania's attitude towards these children. And she has. The hospital is utterly drab. Claudia led me through a maze of green sterile hallways, up a flight of cold, gray stairs until we reached a soft, yellow light at the back of the hospital. The very walls whispered Claudia's goodness, and resounded in the laughs and hugs from the nurses that greeted us. We were welcomed into a warm, peach-colored room filled with snoozing, sniffling little faces. This is where I met my match.< As soon I was introduced, a nurse thrust Christina into my arms. I fumbled with her wobbly head and wooly hat. She opened her big, googly eyes to find me – this smiling stranger – interrupting her nap. I watched her gawk at my white teeth, my itchy cardigan and my general bigness. She crinkled her mouth and sneered. A roar of sweet nothingness erupted from her gaping, toothless mouth. She was angry. Not my best first impression. But I was determined to win her heart. Claudia immediately engrossed herself in gossip with the Albanian nurses – and so I found myself very much left to my own caretaking devices. Christina was not up for sitting, or rocking, or doing anything particularly soothing. She demanded stimulation! So we walked. We took a turn down the dark, cool hallways. We shuffled in the shadows, listening to the hum of electric heaters and beeping machines. We watched Tirana’s bright lights and loud cars dance in the windowpanes. I told her about Albanian politics. She drooled on my hair. As I headed back to the abandoned babies’ room, I felt Christina's head plop on my shoulder. she was drifting off to sleep. I went quiet and still. We were together, if only for a moment.

Comments

Posted on 12/08/2009 by

Michelle Saltis

Michelle Saltis

Great blog post. It must have been so rewarding to be a part of this organization. Claudia is an amazing person for starting a program like this. I study psychology and it is extremely important for babies to be fed with proper nutrition and to be given attention and a lot of nurturing from caregivers or they can have severely impaired development; some may never regain a level of brain maturity as others their age. Tell Claudia I appreciate her efforts, and commend her graciousness as an individual!

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Great blog post. It must have been so rewarding to be a part of this organization. Claudia is an amazing person for starting a program like this. I study psychology ...

Michelle Saltis on Little Baby Christina 2009-12-08

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