For a lot of us in first-world countries, when we think of orphans we think off Little Annie (It’s a hard knock life) or Oliver Twist (I want more). Unless you’ve had the privilege of being a parent of an adopted child, this may be your perspective. It was for me; I’ve had extremely limited experience in orphanages and with children without parents… Until I went to Thailand.
I spent the last month in Thailand and ALL of the work that I did this month was either for the orphanage or working directly with the children. If I wasn’t painting the establishment then I was playing with the children. If I wasn’t playing with the children, I was leading them in small group sessions on the Bible.
I learned a lot about and from these precious children but keep in mind that each country and even each orphanage is very different. The following article is only limited to my experiences in a short month within Thailand.
The first thing I saw was that they are not without “family”
It is honestly an enormous shame that these children don’t have biological parents in their lives, however, the children that I worked with had amazing men and women that had surrounded them and are investing in their lives. They were every bit of parent’s to these beloved. After four years of working in the U.S.A. with teenagers, these orphans in Thailand had better “parents” than some of the youth I worked with. These parent’s stood in the gap for the kids in their care and did it incredibly well. I’m so thankful people in this world who saw the way things were, said “they don’t have to be like that”.
Not to mention each other. The closeness that these children shared between them was almost unparalleled to anything I’ve seen. The older teenagers would help the younger ones. The younger ones would look up to the older ones. These children had older brothers and sisters pouring into their lives and doing life together.
These orphans didn’t “want more”, they wanted me!
One of the most iconic statements made by an orphan was Mr. Oliver Twist, “I want more.” This endearing seen of a hungry orphan is where some people’s minds may go when they think of orphans. Between that and Annie’s , “It’s a hard knock life for us” we have the picture of incredibly depraved examples of child poverty. This was not the case where I was however. I’m in no way demeaning the severity of underprivileged orphans around the world. There are so many orphaned children who don’t have their basic needs met. The particular home I worked at though, had everything these children could ever need. They had clean water, medicine, plenty of food, education, they even had devotions every morning to teach these children how to study the Bible.
They had everything, except me.
Our last night volunteering at the home the director told my team (five guys) that in the last 19 years of running the home she probably only had about 10 men come there. It dawned on me that this is perhaps the reason all the small children would constantly rub and play with my facial hair when I would pick them up – they just weren’t used to it. They had plenty of women tending to them but no deep voiced, strong, bearded men. They weren’t used to a manly figure, at least not in the same way that someone with a consistent father would be. They couldn’t have asked for any more physical needs to be met but watching the director weep as she thanked us for coming, put into perspective that we were taking part in something bigger than we realized.
God can use your hurt to help
People like sympathy and pity. Whether it’s a sickness you’re going through, a financial crisis, a life crisis, etc, no one wants to go through tough times alone. Misery loves company and people want someone to come along side them in their hurt and hold their hand though tough times. I look at this characteristic in light of what I saw in the workers of this orphanage. Some of them have had HIV or AIDS for some time and they were pouring their lives out into the children who had the same virus. Of course they wanted people to walk with them in difficulties but they turned that around to use it as a strength and not a weakness. God was using the terrible things that had happened in their life as a tool in other people’s lives.
But let me be real…
I want to encourage whoever is reading this. If you’re a human the chances are very high that you are dealing with your own difficulties in life. I can only imagine some of things that people have to endure… Consider for a second the ways that you can help other people with similar obstacles as you. You can make a difference in someones life. Don’t waste your life experience feeling sorry for things you can’t control. Get up, go out, make a difference.
You can help!
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