Thursday, May 22, 2008


There were many children, all living together in one room with one adult.  One room.  Only the lucky ones were fortunate enough to snag a mattress, tattered and torn.  The others gathered around and spread themselves out on the floor for the night..... Night after night.

When the adults in the orphanage would fight, the children, scared and alone, would run and hide and lock themselves in one of the rooms till it was over.  More often than not, a fight would end in bloodshed. 

And there was no water...  In temperatures often reaching over 100 degrees, they would bathe and drink from the polluted river nearby.  This lead to disease and malnutrition.  The children were fed twice daily, if they were lucky.  Oftentimes, they would go a day ~ maybe two, without any food at all. 

There were no toys.  No television.  Only music, and when permitted, the children would dance all through the night.  They played soccer, using whatever they could find to use as a ball.  Sometimes even a real one!  But mostly, they would run...  They would run and run, morning till night when there was no school, chasing each other around the dirt roads and dry lands till they could run no more. 

And they would walk....  For a while, his daily journey to school took an hour one way.  If he was late (and he admits, with a sly grin, that he often was), the doors were closed and he would have to walk all the way back home. 

One small voices asks, "Did you ever get sick from drinking the polluted water?"

"Oh, yes...."  He answers...  "Before my mom and dad came to adopt me, I wasvery, very sick and almost dying......They saved me."

Unexpected tears filled my eyes and I had to turn away.  I have never felt so much love for a student, or for someone else's child.  On the first day of school, this little one proudly walked into the room (I met him at the door and knew immediately who he was) with the biggest, brightest smile you could ever imagine, and within a moment, he held my heart.

This year has not been easy for J.  His frustrations with learning the English language and his struggle to belong in a foreign world nothing at all like his own overwhelms him daily.  He's made friends, but he becomes very angry and takes it out on them, and on us.  He often refuses to work and calls everything and everyone "stupid". 

He is a mathematician, when he puts his mind to it.  He has gone from being a beginning first grade reader to a beginning third grade reader in a matter of months.  His English is as good as any other child's.  His wide smile still lights up a room, and when he isn't putting himself and his efforts down, he is very, very proud.

And so am I.  I'm proud of you, J.  I've learned more from you than you will ever know.  You will go far, and I will celebrate for you, simply knowing....

I will miss you, but I will NEVER forget you. 



madcobug said...

Sounds like J. was a very smart child. Good luck to him on his lifes journey. Helen

siennastarr said...

Oh Lord... I would have cried.. right then and there.  What a story.  What a trooper.  What a blessing.

Hugs and love

ukgal36 said...


nanmm11 said...

Beautiful story and picture and mostly a beautiful boy's character and bravery!! God bless him

queeniemart said...

I bet he never forgets you either......what a beautifully written tribute to a boy who has went thru SO much!
You are amazing!

chat2missie said...

That is a beautiful story!

frankandmary said...

It often amazes me when reading of 3rd world countries, how adults/children alike stay so hopeful & active performing profitless labor with unabated zeal, while here we *itch so much with the world at our feet.
He'll go far & you'll always remember him; I think I will too. ~Mary

rdautumnsage said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us, As Mary said herself, I think we will all remember him. His story speaks of courage, strength and love. Sometimes we need a reminder that life could be far worse than it is, what we have with our lives our small miracles - so many times they go un-noticed with our busy lives. Then you hear a story like this and is good. (Hugs) Indigo

rbrown6172 said...

what a heartwarming story.  to have seen and experienced so much pain at such a tender age will surely strengthen him as he matures.  my heart breaks for those dear little ones left behind at the orphange....i pray that God will bless them with wonderful homes!

justaname4me2 said...

J. sounds like an amazing little person. Hopefully, your paths will cross again.......

mleighin21st said...

Wonderful!  A poignant reminder of all that is good and possible.
                                                       Smiles,  Leigh


thinkinglizard said...

Circa 1985 I rested on a bed with my dying mother
where she and my father then resided in Florida/
listening to a tape I had of George Winston's Autumn.
Remembering those moments pleases me.
I am thankful for them.

Brian S.

bgilmore725 said...

He remembers so much for one so young... many like him are living in our country and will now have a chance to make things better for the ones who still live like that. We all have that chance today, don't we? Not everyone takes part in making life more bearable for people in far away lands where food and good water are scarce. It is an honor to be the teacher in the classroom when such a story is shared. Thanks for sharing ... I enjoyed the style of writing you used here. Narrative, Third Person. bea