Thursday, 21 June 2018

I once was lost but now am found

My family had the opportunity to visit two orphanages and I was moved by the stories shared.

In one case, the mother of three children aged 8, 10 and 12 was arrested for drug-related offences. While in prison, the mother constantly worried about her three children and wondered how they were faring. The person running one of the orphanages visited the children and when she saw that they were surviving on small potatoes and corn, she brought them to the orphanage to be raised. The nurturing environment at the orphanage enabled the two older children to make it to university. Seeing how her children had blossomed, the mother turned over a new leaf and had her sentence shortened due to good behaviour. The mother and daughters were reunited when the former was released from prison.

Another family faced a similar plight. The parents of two young children were imprisoned for drug trafficking and the children were brought to the orphanage to be cared for. The mother attempted suicide three times while in jail as she was tormented by worries about her children. When her children were finally brought to visit her, they refused to accept that she was their mother as they had been separated when the children were very young. The children had no memories of their mother and stood far away from their mother when they met. It was only later that they accepted her. The mother was once known as an obstinate and problematic inmate, but spurred by her children, she became a model inmate and was paroled for good behaviour. Her husband was released from prison too and the family got together again.

At both the orphanages, we met a number of children with cerebral palsy, autism or muscular dystrophy who were abandoned by their parents. I felt sorry for these children, but yet was comforted that there were compassionate people who saw how precious the children's lives were and who were willing to provide love and warmth to them. Many of these children were unable to walk, talk or feed themselves and it took a tremendous amount of love and patience to care for them 24/7. I was touched by the caregivers. One lady from the US has dedicated the past six years serving as a nurse to the children. Another young man and his family practically live with the orphans and his preschool daughter helps out at the orphanage, following his example. We also saw several young people serving at the orphanages and treating the orphans as their own. I have much to learn from them.

We met one child who had to be restrained as he would put everything in his mouth if he was allowed to roam. He had eaten cockroaches and had eaten parts of his diaper after taking it apart. Another child had clothes specially made for her. These clothes bound her hands as she would scratch herself incessantly and harm herself otherwise. Sometimes we judge caregivers rashly without finding out rationales for their actions, but if we cared enough to understand the situation, we may realise that the actions stem from love.

I could go on about the stories but will instead end with a prayer for the children and their caregivers. I pray that the children will continue to experience love and grow to be useful citizens who will bless others as they have been blessed. I pray that the caregivers will have strength and love as they dedicate their lives to the cause of saving the lost.

I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

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