The kids at the orphanage are some of the strongest people I have ever had the honor to meet. I have a couple of favorites (I won't lie to you guys). The point is that they have been through and seen some unspeakable things and yet they still smile and laugh like regular children.
Unlike in movies, musicals, or other dramatizations, this particular orphanage is split into casitas. Each house has a mother in charge of it and 7- 10 kids living there. The situation is obviously not ideal, but everything seemed to be pretty much okay, right? Wrong! My last week of working, I ended up walking to work with Belgium, who is volunteering as a psychologist at the orphanage and Colorado, who was volunteering with me at the time. It turns out that not only do most of the kids not even know their own birthdays, but some of them are still holding on to the hope that their families are coming back for them... To make matters worse, the kids are very seldom allowed to leave the orphanage, even for the holidays and festivals that fill the streets of Cusco on what seems like an almost weekly basis.
My last day at the orphanage, we all went to a free clinic that had been set up by some American pre- med students. The whole process was long and boring, and I found out for certain that almost none of the kids I had grown to love knew when they were born. Now, this doesn't sound like much of a big deal, right? However, knowing your birthday is a link to the idea that somebody notices you and cares about you. I wish I could take them all home.
A couple of days after my time at the orphanage finished, an article about some of the mothers in the orphanage's abusive behaviors towards some of the children was published in the newspaper. Let's just leave this with an overview that the content hurt my heart, but was not really all that surprising when I put the dots together as to who at least one of the kids was.
My favorite kid is 11 years old, and his brother is 2 or 3, also living in the orphanage, but in a different casita. He prays every night that they can go home. He is amazingly bright, willing to learn, and deserving of far more opportunities than he will probably ever get. I taught him to count in Korean and English up to ten as well as the pronunciation of the English alphabet just because he asked me if I would teach him. In the United States we take so much for granted, and it takes stepping away from it all to realize just how lucky we truly are.
That 11 year old boy and his little brother? I would take them home with me if I could. There is no one in this world that deserves a miracle more than the kids in this orphanage. I only hope that this is one miracle that is granted.
Everyday Acts of Activism