I have yet to speak of a highly unusual orphanage character. This individual is the orphanage caretaker, who sports cut-offs, button-down shirts, and a rocking 80s mullet.
It took me four days to learn that this person was a woman. And it took me even longer to learn her name, which is why her nickname stuck. I call her Manlady.
I met her on my first day. Lounging on a dirty mattress on the floor, stuffing three slices of white bread that another volunteer had brought into her mouth, She began listing all of the supplies She deems imperative for the orphanage. “We need new laptop, we need new printer. We need whiteboard, we need radio,” She said between gulps.
No. What these kids primarily need is food.
The children at the orphanage are severely malnourished, noted in their jutting bones, lightened hair, and short stature. I was treating most of them like toddlers–holding them, carrying them, singing them Mother Goose nursery rhymes–until I found out I was lowballing their age by at least seven years.
Other than a reasonable amount of rice, the kids are provided 15 dozen eggs a week. That’s only two and a half eggs for each orphan, to be rationed over the course of seven days.
I leave eggs and milk in their kitchen, and lock boxes of cookies in a cabinet for which only She has a key. I went to the cabinet this afternoon to retrieve a box and noticed one of them gone, and another one half-empty (or half-full, depending on how you look at things, am I right?)
She suddenly popped out of nowhere and saw that I was peering through the opened box. “The children, they take them. They take cookies from table and eat them. So I lock them away,” She stammered.
Hm…I don’t know, man. Lady. I had locked them away in the first place. Something tells me She is stealing cookies. And by the looks of her, something tells me I might be right.
Readers, behold: Manlady.