I am sorry I cannot share a photo with you this time, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of my last few weeks and share a few impactful moments. Here are some snippets:
I find that my favorite age group is the grade 1-3 boys. They are so fun, kind, and energetic. Everything they do they put their whole soul into. On Sundays, I take a rugby ball out to the field and all the little boys cheer in exuberant excitement to play a game I invented that is sort of a combination of "3 flies up" and "fetch". I throw the ball out and they are broken into teams and if their team runs the ball back to me they get a point (my job is very easy). They put every bit of their souls into this and it is so fun to watch them.
Last week, we started an HIV counseling group for all the kids who are HIV positive and also have other tramatic experiences in their lives. We did some initial surveys with them to get a sense of where they were at and at the end of the 16 weeks we will ask them the same questions. But it was a very interesting time, because many of the same little boys, full of energy, laughter, and fun, were there and showed another side of themselves. And as I asked them different questions like, "Do you know what happened to your parents?" or "Do you feel comfortable talking about being HIV+?", there was a deep sorrow and pain that washed over their eyes. Or they would start to cry and say that their arm hurt, but really it was their heart that hurt and they just couldn't express it. They can't quite fully understand their pain. I just love being with them, and its funny because I can very much relate to them in that way. Their life has taught them they are worthless and unlovable and have no future. So, while they laugh and play in their everyday life, this voice is always in the back of their mind. They need so much to know that God created them special and will never leave them. And He has a hope and a future set for them.
This week, a new little girl who came not 3 weeks ago, died of TB. There is just such a sadness in the suffering these kids endure with no stable/longterm person to love them through it. It is hard enough to go through very serious illness with a supportive family who loves you, but it is so hard to do it with no one.
Recently, a new little boy came to the orphanage and I was asked to go get his new clothing. He came to Lily with nothing, covered in sores and skin rashes. I and one of the older boys took him over to the clothing store room and picked out his "wardrobe", which consisted of a couple of shirts and pants, socks, underwear and shoes--anything that sort of fit him. He was so quiet as we tried to fit different things on him. That moment was dramatic to me because I just wondered what that little quiet boy had just left. He had absolutely nothing, came to a foreign place where he knows no one, and is only 8 years old. I learned later that he was removed from his home because his grandmother (the only one who could take care of him) was a witch doctor and was forcing him to help her do many things that were literally killing him. I get to help him now do his homework and learn math and he is very smart and sweet.
A fun part of my relationship-building with the kids is baking parties. I love to bake and little did I know that that would be something that the kids love to do. They LOVE sweets and they love to be useful, so they help me bake cakes and cookies on the weekends.