After the amazing church service and wonderful lunch spread at Jumbo and Kriek’s house (the missionaries on the ground that we were working with), we loaded the vans again and drove into Manzini to the orphanage. These children have been caught in the system. The process for out of country adoptions has collapsed in corruption and with so many families struggling with poverty in the country, it is unlikely that these children will ever see a home to call their own. They will get shuffled from one orphanage to another until they are 18 and turned out into society. This is a bleak future for these innocent children that are caught in the red tape. Some have been abandoned at hospitals by families that were unable to pay for medical services or they were born with a disability that would need extra medical attention, hence, money for medical care.
This would be our first of two visits to the house and the kids were initially fearful of these big, white people entering their living room. We sat down and got down on their level and some of them warmed up and walked over with curiosity. Many were reluctant to look at us and would not smile. This was a difficult crowd. I was deeply struck at how much pain I could see in their eyes and their unwillingness to open up at such a tender age. We held them, hugged them, and played with them for the rest of the afternoon. Whatever amount they were willing to let us in, we were there. They loved having their picture taken and then seeing the image on the back of the camera. This brought many smiles and was repeated over and over again.
One girl, Smalley, was born with extremely bowed legs. She sat on my lap out on the grass for most of the afternoon and loved to see herself on the camera. I couldn’t take pictures fast enough and eventually she wanted to take the pictures herself. Zach had been drawn to a small boy that didn’t want to be around anyone. Zach picked him up and carried him to the slide where he sat the whole afternoon with the little boy, not saying a single word. The boy eventually fell asleep on him and Zach would have stayed all evening if he could have. Once the little ones did open up, it was even harder to say good-bye to them.
I’ll have to say I shed a few tears that day but I tried to keep my emotions concealed with sunglasses. We stayed until the sun went down and we had to head back to the guest house. Once the sun goes down, the sunglass trick doesn’t work as well. It was a somber evening and I was impacted more than I thought I would be and I hadn’t even been to the care point yet. Tomorrow is our first day scheduled at the care point and after the orphanage, I’m expecting a pretty emotional week ahead of me.