Love begins with listening. Before speaking. Before other actions. Love leans in and seeks to know, understand, feel with.
So learning to love orphaned children well means learning first to listen well to orphaned children. Former orphans. Current orphans.
Of course, when it comes to orphan care, there are many important voices to hear…perspectives…research finding…best practices…philosophies.
But the first voice we must attend to is that of those who’ve walked in the shoes of an orphan.
And what a gift this can be to us! It does not merely give us “knowledge” about what kinds of “solutions” work best in helping.
The expressions of a person who has known life without mother or father — even speaking in broken language or hushed tones — so often rise like a Psalm. They are woven of raw hope and ache and beauty that only King David could match. They name our own hopes and aches and beauty, also.
I felt that way about poems and stories I read recently from a young woman I’ve come to admire. Agnes Tucker was born in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. She lived at Royal School and Orphanage with 600 other children for most of her childhood, from age four until her adoption in 2010.
Being an orphan means you don’t get to see the outside world. The only thing you do is look outside through the same window everyday expecting someone to come for you. And when they don’t, sometimes you break into tears or accept what just happened as if you are tough. –Agnes Tucker
Agnes heads off to college this week, where she plans to become a physician, specializing in family medicine, so she can bring healing gifts to children in need.
Here’s just one of Agnes’ poems:
BLOW ME TO THE EAST (by Agnes Tucker)
The sun is up this morning,
I step outside my house on the front porch,
But a cold breeze hits me on my way out.
I am still wearing my pink pajama pants and a pink tank top.
The bench is cold and the wind feels cold against my chocolate dark skin
I wrap my hands up on shoulders hoping it will warm me up a little
I curl my legs up on the bench and I let the wind blow my mind
For some reason it carried my mind back to Africa
I guess because it was blowing to the East and I am from the East.
The cold wind reminded me of my cold and sad days in the orphanage
Here goes my wandering mind…
Up on a beautiful mountain is Royal orphanage,
The fields are always green with beautiful flowers
Being blown by the wind against the fence.
Ha! I remember those nights when it gets really cold
My friend and I loved to sit in front of the dormitory and tell stories,
But that one night was different, we were hungry and tired,
The big moon was up and though it was dark,
The sky was so clear, I felt like I could count the stars
It was a beautiful sky yet very dark and a cold night
Gloria my best friend was barging me to go inside
I insisted and told her to stay just a little
We lied down on our backs on the cold-cemented floor
Looking and watching the skies
There came a big shooting star we both saw
We held our hands and counted to three and made a wish.
We always wished for the same thing, A FAMILY!
The sun was still up,
I am still wearing my pink pajama pants and a pink tank top,
The bench is now warm and my arms are still wrapped up on my shoulders
My legs curled up on the bench,
But this time there was cold tear drops rolling down my cheeks
I unwrap my arms to wipe them up
I un curl my legs and head towards the door
I step into my warm house and watch the door close behind me
While the Eastern cold wind stopped blowing.
Contributed by Jedd Medefind
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