Over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to visit 16 orphanages in Nepal and Romania. The countries are different, the languages are different, the food is different. But ironically, many of the stories are the same.
The stories of kids coming out of situations of severe poverty, broken families, and abandonment. The stories of kids who are unwanted and unloved, and who have seen and experienced far more tragedy than anyone their age ever should.
Take for example, Gigi, Gabriela, and Ionut. They are happy kids, running around, playing, loving summer BBQs, and trying to capture the camera’s shutter. These kids seem like normal kids, and to a degree they are. But it wasn’t always so.
You see, not long ago these kids lived in a situation so miserable that it may be difficult to accept it as true. They lived with their mom and dad in a small village. Their parents were unemployed, save for occasional manual labor or scraping out a few Romanian Lei in whatever other ways were possible.
Their living conditions were anything but luxurious. For a time (try to wrap your head around this) they lived in a hand-dug hole in the side of a hill, with a sheet of plastic to cover the opening and to provide protection from the wind, rain, and cold.
Their nutrition was akin to their accommodations. So meager was the children’s food intake that teachers at the local school took it upon themselves to gather food for the kids. One day, when the kids came to school, a teacher asked them what they ate the day prior. One child responded that his mom had milked the dog, and each of them had received a capful.
Not only was their economic, living, and nutritional situation abhorrent, but, adding injury to insult, their dad was an alcoholic. This was a habit which was surely exacerbated by the grinding poverty which was their daily existence.
But instead of directing his frustration in a healthy direction, such as working hard to support his family, he turned to the bottle, and to violent outbursts against his wife and small children.
One day he returned home, very drunk. Seeing his wife, two small children in her arms and one in tow, his rage trigger was pulled. Grabbing a wooden pole from the garden, he made for his wife with the intent of beating her with this his weapon of choice.
Recognizing the approaching threat, she fled to a neighbor’s for refuge. He followed. In a brief altercation between the two, she was able to wrest the pole away from him and, with one well-placed blow to the head, killed him. And all the while the children watched.
From this hell the children were rescued, placed into the safety and care of a Christian orphanage which is committed to caring for children, to sharing the Gospel with them, and to helping them to be and become all that God has planned for them.
But this process takes time. Kids like Gigi, Gabriela, and Ionut are shell-shocked when they arrive. So bad was Gigi’s trauma that he was unable to speak. But with patience, love, and persistence, Gigi’s speech returned, and the three children began to come out of the shells into which they had so deeply withdrawn.
The road ahead may not be easy for them. How does a child (or an adult for that matter) process such things as they have experienced? But, with the dedication of the orphanage staff, mixed with God’s mercy and grace, we believe that these kids’ futures will be (and are!) bright.
How can you participate in this process of bringing life out of the destruction in these kids’ lives?
1. You can pray. Your prayers will move the hand of Him on their behalf, bringing the hope and healing that they so desperately need.
2. You can reach out. A simple letter or postcard once or twice a year can make a deep and lasting impact on these young people, conveying a message that you care.
3. You can faithfully and generously support. By standing financially with our orphanages, you become an active participant in their three-fold mission of rescue, restore, and release.
4. You can participate for the first-time. If you have been reading and watching from the sidelines, maybe today is the day to step into the world of a kid like Gigi. Sponsorship is an easy and effective way to help. We have many kids that are waiting for a family like yours to to reach out and care for them. To meet some of our kids, please click on www.kidstown.org/children.
These are lives we are talking about. They are worth investing in. Thanks to each of you for doing just that.