Posted by: howvoicebegan | 11/12/2011

What About Me?

One excuse after another, they drop out.
“I don’t have any food in my house, so I can’t take her home,” says her father.
“I can’t take her because we are all too busy working,” says an uncle.
Another promised to come but never showed up.
Two are the victims of family feuding that keeps them from being taken by anyone.

Holidays, always centered around families, often serve as a reminder to abandoned children that they are simply that: abandoned. What is meant to be a compliment is a serving of pain; the teacher says, “You passed all your classes! Tell your mom and dad that I am so proud of you.”

I have heard that the things we choose to criticize in others are often a reflection of our own weaknesses. Case in point in the orphanage, where children’s fights quickly descend into the same group of insults: “Your parents don’t love you! No one wants you! Your dad is dead!” The children know what cuts into their very core, and it gives them a bit of relief to put it on someone else and say, “At least I’m not the only one who isn’t loved.”

What about me?

Sometimes they wonder, "Does anyone love me?"

As the school year has now ended, children are being taken by extended family members for the month-long school break. This is the time of year that the children are acutely aware of who is “loved” and who is not. Egos are bruised, wounds grow deeper, and fights more readily break out as the remaining children watch the others taken away. Her sister loves her. Looks like his grandmother loves him. His father came for him, so he must be loved. Does anyone love me?
This is the time of year that I hear desperate claims, some of which are outright lies, so the child feels like someone loves them. Some children tell me that their mother is going to take them “tomorrow.” Some tell me of all the fun things they are going to do when they are out of the orphanage for the holidays. They are trying to convince me that someone loves them, because they need to be convinced, too.

Forgotten children know when they have been forgotten. When they see the joy on their friend’s face as they say, “See you next year!” they wonder, what about me?

As they remain behind, the question lingers. What about me?

Well… what about them?

In December, those in the Northern Hemisphere are cozy indoors in the winter. The plants have gone into hibernation or died. But in South Africa, summer is in bloom, and so is my favourite little flower here: Forget-me-not. When I see the little cluster of purple or white flowers, it’s my reminder of the forgotten children– and the forgotten are turned into Forget-me-not. I cannot replace their parents, and they will never be able to look at the house mothers or myself as truly filling the void in their lives. But I can at least make sure they are never forgotten. The Forget-me-nots bloom at the time of year when the forgotten feel it the most.

Look after the orphans in their distress, says James (1:27). So as God’s eye is on the sparrow, so his eye is on the Forget-me-nots.

The next time you see a Forget-me-not, pause and remember the forgotten– the orphaned, abandoned, and neglected children– whom God’s mind is on. Let them be forgotten no more.

My own Forget-me-not

On a withered Forget-me-not in Lesotho, I sprinkled the ashes of my own Forget-me-not: my beloved Spunky. None of my "children" shall be forgotten.

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Responses

  1. […] As I mentioned before, the holidays can be a painful reminder to children that they are unwanted. These sisters never could go anywhere because they had no known family and the foster-mother had given up on the job. For every school break, we knew that they would be going nowhere. […]


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