I’m not sure what I was expecting… and the truth is that I’ve never actually been into a children’s home…into an orphanage.
I woke up in the middle of the night crying about it.
When I was in Bangladesh last January with Food for the Hungry, we met very few orphans because the family units there naturally absorb children into their own families if the parents die or leave. It’s a culture that is truly, “no child left behind.”
It’s not always the same here.
Here, in Uganda, if one parent dies or leaves and the other parent remarries, it is the new spouse’s prerogative whether or not to keep the prior relationship’s child as their own. And the truth is that when abandonment is suddenly a culturally accepted option, many choose it.
Extreme poverty plays a massive role here too. Parents can’t afford to care for their children, so they drop them off in baby homes where at least they will be fed. And before we’re tempted to look through an American lens and get kinda judgey, know that it’s not a matter of irresponsibility either. In a place where birth control is both expensive and inaccessible, it’s just not a possibility. Pregnancy is the natural byproduct of sex… and just like everywhere else in the world, people in Uganda are having it.
And so babies and children are left on doorsteps, dropped at homes, and left to fend for themselves or die.
I can’t imagine leaving my children. Can you?
Dropping them off and never looking back.
Break my heart for what breaks yours, Lord…
We all left the baby home yesterday pretty bleary eyed and broken-hearted.
It’s true what they say… ignorance really is bliss.
I cannot unsee what I saw. And once you see, you can’t ignore.
It’s not even about negligence, it’s about being wildly outnumbered. With so many children to care for, even the precious women who work at the baby home are working so short handed. 35 kids between the ages of newborn and 3 all in one home, with even half a dozen capable caretakers, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Toss in disability, health issues, colds and flu passing around like wildfire, and you’re starting at a crazy disadvantage.
I can’t forget this:
Taking a balloon out of a baby’s mouth.
Babies lying in their own urine soaked clothing.
Worrying about littles on blankets sprawled in the warm sun …4 full-grown goats on the property running between them.
Watching those same goats run into the kitchen and defecate on the floor.
A baby with a plastic bag on her head as a hat.
Putting a child into a crib and not knowing the next time she would be snuggled.
Raw flesh from a violent rash on one child’s bottom.
Precious faces I stroked, backs I rubbed, babies that cooed at me.
The one sweet face that woke me up in tears last night.
I can’t forget… and I don’t want to forget.
There is enough seen hardship here to make you think about losing your religion.
I don’t want the privilege that I live in at home to stain my ability to see clearly the face of God amongst those less fortunate.
Seeing God here is almost simpler. It’s not convoluted or political.
It’s holding babies without mommies and daddies and kissing them the same as I would my own children.
It’s meeting needs and loving big.
It’s picking jigger eggs from tiny feet, bandaging wounds, and fitting shoes made from my old pants.
I see God’s love so clearly here.
I can be the face of God so clearly here.
Seeing God here… seeing MY God here… it’s not what will make you lose your religion…
It’s what will help you find it.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27
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