I walked through the door of the house that I was an assistant house mother for and I heard the yelling and screaming of my 13 kids. “Ausi Emily!” they all yelled as I entered one of the bedrooms. The kids are between the ages of newborn and 6 at Beautiful Gate Orphanage and their smiles and laughter fill the campus with so much light.
It started out like any other day, walking the preschoolers to school, feeding the babies, washing the clothes, and hanging them up on the lines out back. Then it was time to bring the kids outside to play and get the afternoon meal ready. As I worked in the kitchen I began to notice that the atmosphere was changing. The kids outside were drawn toward two new children that the campus nurse was holding. I turned off the sink and walked outside to go see what was going on. As I approached these beautiful children I noticed their tear stained faces and shy demeanors. When both kids noticed me approaching me they looked at me with pure horror in their eyes. My heart broke for these children and what I became aware of next filled me with rage. First, I was the first white person with blonde hair and blue eyes that these two kids had ever seen. Second, these kids had traveled from their mountain home with their father and found the orphanage so he could drop off his two precious children. How could a father do that to his kids!?
Sidenote: Living at an orphanage for any amount of time will bring about a wide range of emotions on a daily basis.
My heart was so sad and angry that this father so quickly gave up his kids just because he didn’t want to take care of them. What I didn’t know though, was the full story. Backup a few months, this man’s wife died of AIDS and he was raiding these two kid alone up in the mountains with few people around. He had AIDS as well and he knew it would only be a matter of time before he died as well. He couldn’t bear the idea of dying and leaving his 1 and 4 year old kids alone in the mountains so he make the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to the two people he loved most. He wanted to give these kids another chance at life. He wanted them to have the proper medical care seeing that both were HIV+. He wanted them to be loved and cared for instead of be stranded alone in the mountains. These kids moved into my house that night and I held them as they wept. It wasn’t a quiet cry but desperate wails from the heart. They wanted their daddy back.
One of the biggest things I took away from this experience is how vital it is to know the full story before you atomically judge someone. Another thing I was forced to do was rethink the reason the other kids were at the orphanage. Did they come from similar situations? Here I am thinking horrible things about some of their parents, but in reality all they were doing was what they thought was best for their precious babies.
This was a life changing experience to say the least, and this is just one moment in time that has made me to be the person I am today.