There are thousands of them living in our children’s homes in 9 countries across the globe. And thousands more have already graduated and gone on to live their lives as young adults.
It’s the middle of March in Far Eastern Russia. The cold Siberian winds still whip the white, powdery remnants of winter into small drifts against the buildings at the orphanage in Naihkin.
Mariam is in college. Mariam is a Certified Nursing Assistant on her way to becoming an LPN. Mariam’s salary is more than 10 times that of the average rural Ugandan woman her age and will be 20 times more when her degree is complete. Mariam is a 19–year–old-single, Christian woman with no children. She speaks two languages. She is healthy, happy and loves the Lord. She wants to spend her life “helping those who are sick and give the Glory to God.”
It’s late afternoon in Jinja, Uganda. It’s been a long day with merciless heat. It’s the kind of heat that pulls water from your skin and leaves you tired for seemingly no reason.
The sun is warm on Mama Topka’s face. She stares off at the horizon, but her eyes are seeing something else. Her lips curl up in a strange little smile. No one knows what she is seeing, or what has made her smile. It’s as if she lives in a world of her own making.
The clock keeps on ticking. Over the course of the past year we have spent another 525,600 minutes of life’s currency. Everything we have said and done over the past year is recorded and documented. It’s written down. It is part of the irretrievable past. So, was it good? Did we spend our currency well?
The elderly man made his way to the front of the church building, pushing his walker in front of him. He sat in his usual place. He pulled his Bible from the basket on his walker and settled in as the worship service began with a prayer. He followed along in his head, adding his own bits and pieces here and there, thanking God for all of his blessings. He wasn't a rich man by any means. He had gotten along alright though, blessed with a good job for many years.
September 25th was my daughter’s birthday. To celebrate, we took a break from work and met her at a local restaurant close to her home and our office.
Cold, black numbers. Lines on a chart. Fractions and percentages. This out of that. We humans use statistics for many things. We use them to prove a point. To disprove a point. To justify action or inaction. Evil men in history have used them to justify attempted genocide on entire races of people.
A piece of chalk, a bit of thread, a handful of seeds, a night time prayer and a hug... it’s the little things.
I woke up at 2:30 am yesterday to catch a very early morning flight from Sioux Falls, South Dakota back to Kalispell, Montana.
I watched the sun rise at 32,000 feet. Splashes of red and pink, gold and bronze, diffused in the clouds on the horizon where the sun still lay hidden beyond the curve of our planet. It struck me at that moment how we just take for granted that the sun will rise each day as it has for so long now. We take it for granted simply because it has always been there. Since the beginning of it all. We count on it for our very survival and without it, we simply wouldn’t exist.
He calls it a “get together.” The “old students get together.” A gathering of young adults from CCIMA Children’s Home in India.
For Penke, the Director of this children’s home, it is not only a way of showing the success of the home, it is a family reunion. It is his living legacy “home” for a visit.
Gloria has a story to tell.
She sits down at a wooden desk with a couple sheets of paper and a pen. She has thoughts to convey. Feelings to express. Her mind processes the thoughts, connects with her heart and seamlessly mixes the emotions in with the facts. Neurons fire, synapses switch on and off, sending signals from the brain to the brachial complex where nerves cause muscles to expand and contract. Tendons lengthen and shorten and her hand and fingers manipulate the pen she holds. Ink flows through a small tube to a stainless-steel ball encapsulated at the end of the pen and as her hand moves from left to right, the first words appear on the paper as if by magic. The once-empty space, now extends a greeting. “Dear Sponsor…”
Sargent Malloy was quite shocked to see an email from the Governor’s Office on a Sunday! He was even more shocked to see that it was from the Governor himself rather than from an assistant as would be the norm.
Sargent Malloy wrapped the blanket tighter around the old man’s body and breathed a sigh of relief as the screaming sirens told him Emergency Medical was almost there. He glanced over at the shivering teenage girl sitting on the rocky bank of the river. She too was wrapped in a brown, wool blanket and aside from a large bump on her forehead, seemed to be doing just fine.
Perhaps I had heard it before. If I had, I didn’t remember. I suppose there are things like that all throughout our lives that just aren’t timed right to have a significant enough impact to lodge in the long-term memory part of our brain.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s find out.
It’s a beautiful day on a golden beach. The sun is warm, but waning, and the crowds have thinned as sunburns and hunger slowly, but surely pick off the beach-goers one by one.
In the corner of a shared office here at Orphan’s Lifeline, sits an unattended file cabinet; unattended, but not forgotten, and never completely absent from the part of my brain that harbors feelings of regret. Perhaps it’s not as much regret, but rather that sad feeling you get when you read about someone passing that you didn’t really know.
They will remember.
They will remember it all. The loss. The loneliness. The hunger and the heartbreak. The soul-wrenching pain of abandonment.