Sunday, July 25, 2010
Day 3 - El Olam Orphange
Today was our first full day in Ethiopia and for most of us this was our first orphange visit. We didn't really know what to expect. We all walked in the gates to find lots of kids waiting to be hugged and loved. We started pulling out bubbles and bouncy Balls and they went nuts! The boys of course pulled out a soccer ball and they were busy for the rest of the day with the older kids. The children really flocked to Robby and his friend Collin, both who are 13 and 14. I am so glad they were on this trip... I really think the older kids in the orphanges REALLY connected with these boys. They found it so funny that I was Robby's mom. They would run over to me and say Robby and point to me. Yes, I would say ... I would go over and hug and kiss Robby and they would be so excited! This is how we communicated alot.
This was a great first day and we spent all day at the orphange. I have never experienced this kind of love that these children needed. When you walked anywhere you had at least one on your hip and three or four dangling from your arms, hands and hips. They were so precious and so DESPERATE for love. They were hugging, kissing, loving you ALL DAY LONG! I truly think that I have not played like this since I was a child. ALL DAY PLAY!
Now, as a side note this orphange was with an adoption agency called Celebrate Children and Kelly, the founder of Ordinary Hero who we were with, took us into the orphanges and minsitries that are "off the beaten path". What I mean by this, is that we passed over the usual "toured" orphanges that most organized tours that come to Ethiopia see. We went to the poorer orphanges that no one goes to. Kelly has a heart for those left behind and I am so glad I was part of this trip. The kids we saw were not used to these Americans, mostly white persons, coming to see them. They were not used to receiving toys, new clothes, new shoes or having someone just "come play" for the day. It was so good to play with them, to clothe them, to feed them, and to provide love to them ALL DAY LONG. We rocked the babies, fed the babies, changed the babies, played with the toddlers, played with the older kids, did arts and crafts, painted finger nails,had lunch, played soccer, played volleyball and played on the slide ALL DAY LONG! It was just so great and the kids were pumped!
Now one thing I was a little taken aback was when we handed out "treats". Treats being any of the following: toys, balls, small cars, bubbles, clothes, shoes, candy, crackers, etc... I would watch them receive something, hide it in their pants, and then watch them extend their little hands again to receive as if they had not had any. It took me by surpise, but then I had to remind myself that this is an orphanage and they don't have anyone buying them stuff so they aren't used to receiving things. After all, who knows when someone else will show up to hand out presents? This was hard for me, because I am a super FAIR mom. I wanted to make sure everyone got something and that no one had more than another. Well, that went out the window day 1. Ha! It's not their fault they are orphans and have no mother or father to teach them not to hoard. Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you act the same way? When you are an orphan who looks out for you? No mom or dad to teach you to be gracious and to share. I saw one little girl receive a pack of "Smarties" candy and I was aghast at what she did with them. She was about 4 and she opened the wrapper, ate the first one, which was a white one (my favorite), and then she closed the wrapper and put it back in her pocket. I was like, oh my gosh.. really? My kids and all the kids I know would have devoured that pack of candy in 20 seconds flat max! But, you have to understand again that this was a TREAT, a rare occassion that these "vistas" came today and who know if or when anyone would be back. She didn't dare want to eat them all in one setting and not remember her treat. I watched another little boy, maybe 3 or 4 hide his tootsie roll under a bowl in the playroom/bedroom. We were all playing with Makenas, a.k.a. matchbox cars, and then when he rechecked his bowl to see if his treasure was there, it was gone. He lost it. Someone had found it (not a really good hiding place), and he was devastated when he realized it was gone. I am talking full out tears. It just broke my heart. He was crying over one tootsie roll. He was hanging on to his "makena" with all of his might as I quickly found another piece of candy for him. He didn't hide this one; instead, he shoved in his pocket. I pulled it out and helped him unwrap it and "enjoy" it. I couldn't stand the thought of somehow him loosing his 2nd piece of candy; then I tucked another one in his pocket for "later". Now, can you imagine this? These children are just "waiting" for someone to "pick them". These children have been left beind. How many blessings do we take for granted here in America? I was simply in awe and my heart still aches for them.
The lady at this orphange also runs a daycare for the working mom's of their village at no charge. Those kids were also there playing with us and I took pictures of their school room. So small, so rural, kind of makes "The House on the Prarie" school house look HUGE. Same kind of desks they had on that show, small chalkboard and a small campfire in front of the classroom to keep them warm. It was sureal. Really.
There was a little girl, 2 or 3?, that stole alot of our hearts here. They orphange initally thought she had down syndrome. What? I just didn't see it. Neither did a lot of others on our trip. She is sitting there WAITING to be adopted. One of my tripmates, just melted, and is praying if this is her child to go back to ET to bring home to her American family. I am praying for her as I type this, that this is God's plan for her family and that he will fund what he favors. She has the longest eyelashes you have ever seen. Seriously, she is beautiful and so small and in need of so much love. We all carried her around all day on our hips. There is NOTHING wrong with this child; I fully believe it. A little love and this little girl will flourish. No doubt. As a side note, medical care is hard to come by in Ethiopia. There is only 2.6 doctors per 100,000 in Ethiopia. This may be why this little girl was what we think as "mis-diagnosed" by her orphange. Again, her diagnosis is all MY opinion (and many others from our group.)
Now I know some of you will ask how we communicated with them. Some of the children speak some broken english. The little ones not so much. I learned on this trip that you can communicate in so many ways other than through the english language. The language of LOVE truly is universal.. and it was the most important lesson that I learned on this trip! Tell your kids tonight as you are reading this just how much you love them! :)