Every day, I speak, write, share, pray, envision and dream about the orphaned children in Africa.
Before I went to Africa, of course I didn’t know what life would feel like for me once I returned to Canada. As these months have gone by and every day I have woken up remembering the children, I’ve considered it part of the great privilege of spending time with them. I’ve only just begun to learn from the children, and an expert I am not, but you know that saying, goes sort of like “once you know something, you can’t really pretend you don’t” or “once you know, you know”, or something…
Because the children and I have shared time and Love, I do know some things from them, and about them, and one of those things, seemingly now the foundation of all I do, is that the children and my heart are forever bonded.
All thinking aside, my feeling is that the children are an exquisite and precious gift to us all.
One day before I left for Africa I found myself crying. It felt scary to me all of a sudden. It wasn’t the environment I was heading into on my own, or my health or safety, or the unknown, or any of those kinds of things… it was my little voice, my little ego voice, asking me “just what do you think you can do, there are millions of orphaned children.”
In preparation for going, it had been recommended to me that I do some research about the children and that research had revealed such staggering, gut punching statistics… 12 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS alone in Sub-Saharan Africa as of 2007… a projected increase to 20 million children by 2010. Include all causes like war, famine and other diseases and I recall the estimated number being somewhere around 50 million. That is more children living without parents than there are people, of all ages, living in Canada.
I shared the fearful voice with one of my brothers that day. Gently he reminded me… one day, one child at a time. Love. Simple.
Yesterday, I saw a quote on Twitter that Mother Teresa once said – “We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.”
Reading Mother’s words, I had pause to remember the moment on my journey when I learned from a Ugandan man about some orphaned children who had once been counted. I don’t know by whom, which government, or organization, or charity.
I do know he said the children never saw anyone return to actually help them, to give them the hand – the Love – they were needing. Instead, the children had formed part of a statistic; they could be found in someone’s thesis or in a journal or proposal somewhere, on a shelf, in a university or a boardroom, on an internet search, in a funding cheque… but no one had helped those children. I just wept when I learned this. I was confused and even angry and eventually, I was humbled to remember having received simple clarity from my brother when I had needed it most.
Mother Teresa is right. We are not here to be numbered. We really are here to Love and be Loved. All of us. And that’s about it.
Forever thanking the children,