Happy International Women’s Day!
This holiday is not celebrated in America, at least to my knowledge. We celebrate Mother’s Day, but not Women’s Day. All growing up I remember thinking that it would be fun to be a mother so that I could be honored for a whole day every year (on top of my birthday of course, but who doesn’t love being spoiled twice in a year?)
I’ve been thinking and praying of ways to bless the orphanage workers where I volunteer for some time now. They have an extremely stressful job with little pay. On top of it all, they aren’t held in any sort of “respect” and they get little to no encouragement or thanks from their employers. Corruption abounds in this country, along with desperate attempts to “make a buck” and “get ahead”…. add that on top of low funding for orphanages and what do you get? Understaffed, overwhelmed workers who often take money or items meant for the children and keep them for themselves. Sad, but true.
My heart’s desire has been to seek ways to bless these women. To make them feel special, appreciated, and encouraged. What woman isn’t grateful for a pat on the back or a box of chocolates once in a while? How does it make you feel when someone thanks you for a job well done? Does it make you want to try harder and continue giving it your all? It certainly does for me.
These workers get hardly any encouragement from their superiors (actually, I’ve witnessed yelling fights more than anything.) They look disheveled and discouraged often. I started asking them about their home lives, their children, their likes and dislikes, and I started seeing some smiles creep up on their faces. The light bulb turned on one day and I realized that it would be a brilliant idea to find regular ways to bless these women. The more encouraged they are, the happier they are, and in turn the children will be treated better. For the past few weeks I’ve heard reports from my fellow volunteers that they’ve witnessed the workers hitting the children. If we can regularly uplift them, I think they will be less likely to act this way.
A group of us decided to raise some money in order to purchase presents to give to the workers on Women’s Day. A few weeks ago we had a bake sale and from the profits we bought chocolate and hair products. We wrapped them up nicely with pretty bows and wrote “Happy Women’s day” in their language. We also baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for them because they love American baked goods!
This morning was the big day. I was nervous and excited. How would the women react? Would they be thankful? I wasn’t sure how everything would turn out. We packed up all the presents and cookies and headed out for the orphanage. When we arrived, the staff wouldn’t answer the door. We worried that because of the holiday, they were understaffed and might be embarrassed to have us come in and see the conditions. We rang the doorbell, then we rang it again, and again, and again. Finally they let us in! We started handing out the presents and I gave each staff member a hug and traditional kiss on the cheek (more like in the air while your cheeks touch) and wished them “Happy Women’s Day”.
Their response? Total surprise and thankfulness! Their faces brightened, their smiles widened, and their hugs were tighter then ever before. They laughed and showed each other their presents, then hugged us some more. We passed out the presents to the cooks and doctor as well.
The head director was off because of the holiday, so the head doctor was in charge. She took us upstairs to hand out presents to workers where we’ve never been before… to the newborn room! My heart skipped a beat as we walked up the stairs. We’ve all wondered what the newborn room looked like and the conditions of the little ones. The door creaked open and I poked my head instead to find over 10 little babies bundled up in their cribs. There were only two workers and they were busy cleaning, folding clothes, and preparing medicine. I tried to balance between talking to the workers and sneaking a quick peek at the precious babies. They were so incredibly small! Some of them were crying and waving their arms in the air, while some were quiet and motionless. My mind immediately raced back to memories of my daughter as a newborn. She was constantly in my arms or in a sling as a little baby. I loved cuddling her as much as possible during those early months. And here these baby orphans lay all alone in cribs. I wished so badly that we could scoop them all up and sing sweet lullaby’s into their ears.
I returned back to the toddler room and helped with the 1-2 year olds. I snuggled them, sang to them, played with them, fed them, and prayed for them in my heart. They are growing up so quickly! One little boy, we’ll call Baby A, is walking now! He is the cutest little munchkin I’ve ever seen. We call him monkey boy because he’s constantly climbing around and reaching for toys with a huge smile on his face (he was the boy quarantined to his crib a while back when all the kids were sick).
Baby K, my favorite little princess who called me “mamma” a while back, is supposedly getting adopted by a local family! When I found out I had a mix of emotions. At first I was devastated because I’ve always dreamed of adopting her, but then I realized that this is a good thing. We want local families to adopt children from their own country! I’ve been told that orphans are considered to be almost nothing by locals and hardly anyone would want to adopt them. Over tea one day my local friend asked me, “If you adopted a child here, how could you ever love them like your own?” Anger rose up within me but I asked Father to calm my words as I replied, “Oh, believe me, I could love them as my own.”
Sadly, adoption in this country by Americans is not going so well. One of my friends has been trying for almost a year now, and the child they’ve been seeking is suddenly being given to another family. There is much corruption involved in the process here and it frustrates me to no end. We just keep praying, praying, and praying.
My heart’s desire is that we would bring rays of hope and blessing to this orphanage- to the workers and to the children. Our prayer is that they see Father in us, and become hungry for the hope we have in Him. Please continue praying with us- we need your prayers! And if you ever feel led to give financially, the money will be used for the children’s needs directly. In the past few months we’ve purchased bibs, walkers, highchairs, and this week we are paying someone to paint the walls a light green color to brighten up the room.
Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement. You’ll never know how much it blesses us on the other side of the ocean.