Written by Lea Kelley
My birthday swung around the corner once more and surprisingly I wasn’t in the mood for the usual turn up and birthday festivities. I sat down and thought for a second and all of a sudden it was clear as a day. Go to an orphanage, donate some stuff and spend time with the kids, better still go to two orphanages! Double blessings! To the kids of course… I told myself. But was it really?
I visited both orphanages that day and met the sweetest most precious kids, so loving, if not a little shy. After they had gotten comfortable around me, they tugged at my t-shirt and raised their little hands to be picked up, almost like clockwork. At the time, it tugged at my heartstrings, these babies just need someone to love them. I promised myself that day, I would do my absolute best to visit them at least once a week, busy schedule be done away with.
The following week I visited both orphanages. At this point I was conversant with the caretakers, calling to inform them of my visits. I learned their names quickly. I was informed it was one of the kid’s birthdays coming up and I made sure I made note of it. Birthday cake and drinks on me I informed the caretaker. That day was a special day for me because at that moment I realized something, these kids aren’t interested in the self-serving birthday celebrants who cart in packs of noodles and rice and use them as props for the cameras. They are interested in the “aunty/uncle” who visits them every Saturday morning. That face they can look forward to, the arms they are ever willing to jump into, even better if those arms contain chocolates and candy.
In most cases, orphanages are used for birthday celebrant’s photo shoots and the children are used as props. We justify this selfishness by bringing palliatives but in reality what most people really go for is the glory, the theoretical “pat on the back” for our act of kindness. Let it be noted, I am not condemning the act of donating to the less privileged. It is a noble act and should always be commended, however let us be kind for the right reasons and be capable of seeing beyond our insistent need to be praised. If we switch shoes with these kids for even a day, we would realize that although our donations are important, in the mind of a child it holds no weight compared to genuine compassion.
Children are supposed to be nurtured and loved, orphans even more so. Orphans, who have been left alone in the world and have to find their own way to cope with that fact as they grow older.The truth is we don’t consider how these kids would feel. People who are fortunate enough to grow up in a home with parents and siblings could never empathize with these children, especially those that have grown up in the system. It would take so little to invest our time, even an hour a week into their lives. In essence, I am talking about consistency. The power of consistency is underrated however, it is the foundation of every solid relationship and bond between human beings.
So the question I ask? Is it right to walk in and out of the lives of kids that already have abandonment issues under the umbrella of kindness and charity? We’re doing it for the kid’s right? But just a little for us? Should the kids just be happy with the goodies they get? Mind you, we have no idea how these goods are being dispensed when we walk out of that door. It is a question I would really love answered.It is human nature to be selfish sometimes but compassion and most importantly consistency should prevail, especially where children are concerned.
Orphanage donations: for us or for them?