As we entered the orphan home for babies and toddlers in Jinja, Uganda, we were greeted by children with outstretched arms. Showing no reserve or apprehension at all, they ran to us, wishing to be held, carried, hugged, and tickled.
(Image: Children at the Baby and Toddler home)
It is a scene that repeats just about every time I visit an orphan home filled with children of this age range. They want nothing more than to feel loved and embraced. They don’t desire the latest Gameboy or Ipod. These things are not known to them and, if so, would mean nothing to them compared to the love and acceptance they so desperately crave.
This particular home was principally filled with children that were abandoned at the local hospital. This is one of the most heart-breaking scenarios adding to the numbers of parentless children each day. The story typically plays out something like this:
A woman, Mary, is struggling to feed her four children and keep them alive in the midst of many things that could so easily bring death. Each day is a battle for survival. Which children should eat today, which ones tomorrow? Which children can go to school? Which children should beg and scavenge on the streets?
As with most women in these cultures, Mary has no say concerning sexual relations. She is not in control. She cannot influence the decision. She is simply to oblige.
She becomes pregnant and starts to feel the new life growing within her. She is sorrowful and scared. She wants the child, but knows that it would mean either its death or the death of one of her current children. There is simply not enough food, not enough medicine, not enough survival energies to go around.
The time has come and she enters the hospital. She gives a false name.
The child is beautiful and reaches out for her mother’s breast. Mary smiles and holds the baby closely to her chest, as tears well up in her eyes. Her heart is exploding within her. Joy and sadness come crashing together.
That evening, as the baby girl sleeps comfortably, Mary quietly slips out into the night.
Such a tragedy unfurls hundreds, if not thousands, of times daily. People so impoverished, so without hope, that they would abandoned their very flesh and blood in order to try to exist in an under-producing, non-forgiving land.
Can you imagine the hearts of these children as they grow up? How they are broken beyond measure at the thought that they were discarded? How they harbor resentment against their very societies?
These children are sponges for attention and affection. They are ready to absorb and cling to love.
They are ready for the Father.
“Blessed those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, ESV)
(Image: Babies at the home)