Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Application of Skills

Summary Exercise: Selecting Key Ideas, Reducing, Rephrasing & Relating (by using logical links) – 3Rs


Somehow, something was missing from my secure, humdrum life as a bank secretary back home in London. Single and commitment-free, I reasoned that if I wanted to do something, I should do it while I was young and still had the energy. My parents were considerably shocked when I announced my decision to act as a volunteer in a Romanian orphanage for handicapped children, but they pledged their love and support because they knew my stubbornness.











We finally reached the village of Mandresti after a two-hour drive from Bacau. What greeted me was a drab building with rusty bars on the windows and glass panes black with dirt. Inside the orphanage, everything was grey, gloomy and wet. Far down the high, windowless corridor, one light bulb emitted feeble rays.
Proceeding upstairs, we saw some 100 children, many still in the rusty cribs that had been their homes through the years of oppression. Most were lying very still in their beds on sheets of cold, wet linoleum with only thin rags for cover. Many had their legs curled up to their chests. Their faces were devoid of expression, staring anywhere but at me. They seemed to be waiting to die.
I was determined to get these children outside into the fresh air and give them some joy in life. But I soon realised it was immensely difficult to make them feel enthusiastic about doing anything as long as they were cold and hungry. Most of my time was spent struggling just to clean and dress them.
Assigned to Salon One, I was to help the most severely handicapped and hopelessly-ill children. I learned that many of the children had never been out of their cribs until recently. The staff had tied many of the youngsters’ hands behind their backs and their legs against their chests to make it easier for the female workers to manage them. They reasoned that if the children were bound to the cribs, they could not get out and cause trouble. However, this resulted in many children being frozen in the same fetal positions in which they had been tied. Though their bonds were now cut, their muscles had completely atrophied and their joints had locked.
One of the first things I did was to write each child’s name above his or her crib. It gave them a little bit of individuality and also helped ensure that they received the right medication. Every morning I’d rush into the room and call them to get up, giving each a kiss. Then I’d wrap the more underdeveloped children in blankets to make them feel secure and gently stroke their faces and limbs until they relaxed before lifting them onto my lap. After cuddling for a few minutes, I laid them down on a mat and tried to stimulate them by tickling or playfully rolling them around. To help them stand, I held their hands and made them sway back and forth, all the time talking to them. Although they could not understand me, I thought what they needed to hear most was a human voice.

As another form of therapy, I filled up an old tub with bubble bath I had brought from home. Although the staffers were horrified and certain that the children would catch their deaths of cold, I assured them earnestly that it was common practice in England and that it would help the children feel better. Baffled but impressed, they reluctantly accepted my idea.
I also played nursery rhymes or Strauss waltzes – a favourite of the children – on a cassette recorder. I would sing and dance with them, clap their hands and shake rattles in front of their fixed, staring eyes.
All too soon, my three months were up and it was time for me to fly home. My feelings were mixed as I boarded the plane. Then it hit me: there was so much more I could do for these orphans. I scrambled off the plane, much to the air stewardess’ chagrin and ran to catch up with the staffers who had come to send me off. My luggage could wait.

Imagine you are the writer. Summarise what you did to help the children during your stay at the orphanage.

Your summary should NOT be longer than 80 words excluding the given words and should be in continuous writing.


Begin your summary with

The first thing I did was to...

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