When I talk to people directly about the impacts of HHI’s work in orphanages, one of the things I tell them is that several orphanages I have visited have reported that, “after HHI training, children die less often.” This is an amazing and almost breath-taking claim – that when HHI trains orphanage caregivers how their direct actions, their nurturing, snuggling and simple acts of love and kindness actually can mean the difference between life and death for a baby! This was proven in studies in orphanages in Eastern Europe after World War II, that children in institutions who were only given food and water often died. What they lacked was love – what could be a more basic human need?
I was asked by a friend yesterday why I have never really publicized this profound outcome of HHI and I admitted that I was afraid that it might make HHI look too grandiose, that we were making outrageous claims and that we could somehow loose credibility. She looked at me with a bit of confusion and again asked, “yeah, but you have heard orphanage directors – several of them – tell you that babies hadn’t died since HHI’s training?” My answer, “Yes, more than once”.
Then, today’s NY Times ran a story about orphanages in Sudan that yet again showed demonstrable proof that teaching and supporting orphanage caregivers to show love to the children kept children from dying. A clip from their article reads, “Nurses are trained to hold and play with the children as they feed and care for them. Medical care has vastly improved. In 2001, 479 children died. In 2006, 186 did, according to UNICEF.”