In the western world, we are not accustomed to seeing children living in worse conditions than most animals do in America. In Liberia, however, this is a regular occurrence, particularly in the orphanages being run by neglectful and/or abusive directors. In our line of work, we are forced to tour these terrible homes on a regular basis, usually because the orphanage directors have solicited our help. Through building relationship with these homes, it becomes apparent very quickly why the children are living in a state of filth and despair.
Sylvester is a little boy we first told you about last November. He had been abandoned by everyone who knew him and rescued from the garbage piles by an orphanage director that found him wandering around the community. No one knew his story. He was small, under-developed, non-verbal, and not potty trained. Even worse, he started having seizures. At the orphanage he improved somewhat—at least he was getting routine food and care, but it became obvious that his special needs required more.
“The best things in life aren’t things.” I read that quote one day a few years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. The more I think about it, the more I realize how true it really is. When I think about the most memorable moments of my life, I remember the experience and how it made me feel. Those are the memories I hang on to.
Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to share the story of a young person who is doing very well. Today is Emmanuel’s day. We are extremely proud of this young man. At the age of 15, he is one of the oldest boys at the orphanage where he lives. With this comes a bigger responsibility to not only help around the house, but also to be an example for the younger children in the home. Emmanuel consistently rises to these expectations.
Orphan Relief and Rescue currently has more than a hundred and twenty children in both Liberia and Benin, West Africa, on our Child Sponsorship Program. The kids are matched up with a sponsor who generously gives $35 a month. This money ensures that the child has daily food, consistent healthcare, an education and a variety of after-school mentoring and discipleship programs.
Our field team in Liberia has grown this month by the addition of two interns from Youth With a Mission’s School of Social Justice. Carissa and Leigh Anne will be working with our Child Development Program until June. We’ve already been blessed by the enthusiasm and love they have brought with them to serve the orphans in Liberia. In today’s blog they’ll be sharing some of their thoughts as they start working with and getting to know the kids in the orphanages.
What are you passionate about? What makes you come alive; what is that something that gives you a sense of purpose?
Ever since I can remember, one of my passions has been painting homes. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I opened up a painting business in the early 1990s that helped to provide for our family financially.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of peace in Liberia. Civil war ravaged the country for decades and destabilized the entire infrastructure. Basic necessities such as jobs, health care, and education had become all but nonexistent. Many of the educated population fled for safety, leaving a huge hole in the education system. By the time schools started running again, almost every single child was behind. Displaced by these circumstances, many children also ended up living in orphanages during this time.
Last week I shared the story of Damawah and her brothers, Paul and Lawrence. After I posted their story I went and spent the afternoon at the orphanage where they now live. While I was there, I saw Paul sitting off by himself looking at a book. I called his name and he looked confused, but eventually understood I wanted to spend time with him. He brought me the book, crawled into my lap, and I proceeded to read it to him. Then I read another one, and another...