Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My presence is enough

22/7/15: My third day: still no time to sleep. I travelled over an hour to reach the 13 children that got moved to this other orphanage. I took Thanh and Ngan with me, the two oldest girls left behind at Tam Ky. They are sisters and have a younger brother at the orphanage too. I am not sure how they decided these two stayed and the rest of the older ones went. It's pretty cruel dividing the best friends up and they were really sad. I was lucky enough to take them with me to visit their friends at this other orphanage. The director even allowed me to keep them overnight! Huge! (As an aside, I could write an entire other post about Thanh and Ngan and their reactions at being in another town. I took them to restaurants where they could order anything they wanted off the menu, a totally new and foreign concept to them and how they were in awe of everything in a Western room).

So off we went. I wish I could have filmed their reactions when the other girls saw them and they were reunited. The screams that echoes out of the room and the group hug that ensued. They then spotted me and ran up to me showing me the same amount of love and welcome. I was crying and shaking, they were crying and hugging me so tight.

They hate it. They absolutely hate it. I was praying with all my heart that this orphanage had improved over the years I've known it and whilst on the surface some things look better, in reality it's still horrible. They all looked skinnier.

The girls were non stop chatting, catching up on stories. They didn't stop for a breath. I sat back and listened, not understanding what they were saying, yet at the same time, understanding everything they were saying.
I did understand that the other children were teasing them because they didn't have many clothes and the clothes they came with were old or to big for them. I went to the markets and bought all 13 of them brand new outfits.

I wanted to buy them food but I felt really slack to the other children just rocking up with food for my 13. There are 90 at this orphanage. So I ended up buying 90 ice creams, enough fruit for 90 and the following day, 90 meat bread rolls. I couldn't bring myself to just buy 13 and ignore the rest.

 The other children are pretty awesome too and even remembered me from the years before when I use to visit. Some of them used to be at 'home of affection', an orphanage that closed down in Tam Ky in 2010/2011. I didn't really keep up a connection with them as I felt I couldn't provide for all of them there as well my usual places in Tam Ky. But they did shock and surprise me when they showed that they remembered me. I guess perhaps I did make an impact on them!

The boys came in to find me too when they saw I was there. They hung around me a little, just sitting. It was nice as one of them would never talk to me in Tam Ky and here, he came up to me and took me to his room to show me where his living quarters were now.

The rooms are pretty bare. At least they have a bed each was what I was thinking to console myself.
So we spent two days there with them. It was great that Thanh and Ngan were with me and they sat as a little group and chatted, listened to music off a tiny mobile and teased each other.

. I just feel so helpless. Like I couldn't do anything for them. But I underestimate the fact that I was there. Just there. Just present. I didn't even need to have them communicate to me the entire time. The fact that I was there. That I brought Thanh and Ngan. That I brought clothes and ice cream and fruit. Something is better than nothing. I have not and will not forget them just because they have moved orphanages. I've known these children for the last five years. I can't just pretend they don't exist anymore just because they have moved and it's to hard for me. This is their reality and they live it every single day.

So after an epic 11 hours with them that day, they all hugged me and told me they loved me and gave me sniff kisses and Nho did my hair to make me pretty.

I told them that whatever they needed I will send for them. I will get Mrs Hanh to check on them monthly and leave money with her for whatever they need until I can find a way to get them out of there!

I feel helpless still. Like I'm not doing enough. They moved here three weeks ago. I'm focusing on the fact that it's still transition period and the fact that I am here for this difficult period... Is enough. My presence is enough.