Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reclaiming Childhood

Our first stop this morning was back to the state orphanage.  Once again we spent time with the teen mothers.  This time was both my high and my low of the day.

Again, I was sitting in a room of girls, CHILDREN, who were living in an overcrowded orphanage and were faced with the adult task of raising children.  Not only are these girls facing the pressures and demands of caring for infants and toddlers, but they have all suffered trauma and loss.  No one comes to the state orphanage voluntarily.  They have all been abandoned or rejected in some way.  No one has stepped up to protect and care for them.  Many of the girls have been traumatized by rape, sexual abuse, and physical abuse.  All of them have lost their innocence and childhood. 

Twenty-one girls came through those doors this morning.  Some of them with children in tow, others in various stages of pregnancy.  I wish that my ears and translation had deceived me when I heard one of the last girls tell us her age.  She was only 10 years old.  Please read that again so it sinks in.  She is 10 years old!  This petite little girl is 7 months pregnant.  The atrocity that is her life is completely unfathomable to me.  She is barely old enough to be physically mature enough to become pregnant, no where near emotionally mature enough.  At 10, she isn't even able to make responsible decisions about her own daily care, let alone that of a helpless child.  I don't know her story because I can't handle the details.  My mind simply cannot comprehend the fact that she is pregnant, let alone the circumstances that led to the situation.  Then I think of my own daughter.  Just one year younger, I can't even comprehend how in another year she would be able to be in the same situation.  Those thoughts just don't enter the realm of possibilities for my daughter.  There is no reason to justify what was done to this little girl and to further the abuse, she is now alone at the orphanage, without her family.  But like I said, she was just 1 of 21 girls in that room this morning.

We knew the situations that we would face on our return visit and our mission was to bring hope and joy to those girls for the short amount of time we were there.  Using a Polaroid camera, I was able to take pictures of the girls with their children.  Each girl received a photo and a gift from our team.  Then we took the time to pamper them by painting their fingernails.  They had already spent extra time getting ready that morning because they knew we were coming to take their pictures so the nails just added to their beauty today.  One of the most amazing things that I saw was when the guys on our team joined in.  I'm hoping that their willingness to pamper those girls gives them a new perspective on how men should treat them.  Very few men have shown them compassion during their short lives and they deserve to be loved and respected.

For those short 45 minutes during our return visit, they seemed like children again.  They smiled, laughed, ran around to get pictures with their friends.  They seemed to be happy in a place where joy and hope are so hard to find.  I hope when they see those pictures that they remember today.

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