Last week we were able to visit some villages for the first time. I personally went to Trou-Caiman for two days with a VBS group. This village has no Christian church, but has multiple voodoo temples. There is also no school in this village. While it is within walking distance of our campus, it is still quite a long walk. For this reason, people only come to campus if they are very ill and need to visit the clinic. VBS was a little overwhelming, with people coming from every corner of our designated area. The snack time was practically mobbed by the adults in the village. While people in this area are not violent, they can still be overwhelming. This was especially true for the team who spoke very limited Creyol. I stepped in and helped regain control of the situation and we had a better plan for day two.
While we were working with Trou-Caiman, we also had two other traveling groups. In addition to having all that going on (plus English Camp on campus), we had endless vehicle troubles. It all worked out, but it left us stranded in different areas on multiple days. My first day in Trou-Caiman, our group was left waiting for a vehicle to come pick us up. We were packed up and ready to go, but waited another hour before being picked up. During this time, we played with kids and interacted with adults who were still hanging out. I picked up one little girl who was very tired and she quickly laid her head down. I found someplace to sit with her, and kids continued to come to me and talk. I was being taught more Kreyol while we talked. This led to continued questions, which at first I did not understand. When I realized what they were asking, I still did not realize all that was behind it. Multiple children asked me, "Are you taking her with you to Chambrun?" in regards to the girl nearly sleeping in my lap. I thought it a strange question, and answered that no, I was not taking her with me. I told them she lived in their village, not in Chambrun. They said they knew that, but I could still take her. At that point I figured she must have family in Chambrun. Since these two villages are only 5 miles apart via footpath, it would make sense. I simply told them no, I was not taking her.
Within the next 15 minutes, I had more children ask the same question. Then I just thought it was strange, and sad! One of the mothers who had been observing VBS came and asked me the same question. I told her that no, I could not take the child with me. There was an older child who had been helping me with Kreyol who came over to explain to me that I needed to take this child. At this point, 10 children and one adult had told me the same thing. In our conversation in Kreyol, he explained that her mother had left and no longer wanted her. She had been abandoned. She was maybe 4 or 5 years old. I then became very burdened and asked him who was watching her every day. At first he was startled because I asked very sternly. I told him somebody had to watch her and help her. He said other moms were helping her. I asked again to ensure that I understood, "Her mom left? She does not want her? She is not coming back?" He answered that I was correct. My heart broke and my stomach sank. This feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. I could not take this child simply because an older child told me she needed someone. She is not an animal that I can just sweep in and rescue with no care for where her family may be. Still, the fact that she had to walk away with 2 older girls (who were no more than 8 or 9) and I did not know if her mother was truly coming back...this was a hard fact to swallow. My heart broke and my mind raced as I tried to determine what I could do. The difficult answer: nothing. I could do nothing. Our children's home is full, and I do not fully know the situation. It is indeed kidnapping, even if her mother abandoned her. This is hard to swallow.
Later I returned home and cried over this little girl and prayed that God would watch over her. I prayed that somebody would be there to hold her that night, and somebody would bring her food and water. I prayed that I could see her again if we returned to the village. Maybe one day I could do more for her, but not that day. When I can do nothing, God must do everything. While this is such a difficult place to be, it is right where He wants me.
Then it hit me: why do we not see this the same way in the USA? In America, we say we want to help the orphans and abandoned. Our hearts break for these children who nobody wants. We say we will step in and some may even read my blog and feel like I made the wrong choice. Yet, there are tens of thousands of children in the USA waiting to be adopted or fostered. There are thousands in your own area who need a foster home. Is it easy? No! Would it have been easy for me to bring this child home with me last week? Perhaps it would have felt easy at first. In reality, it would have grown increasingly difficult as we tried to help her with no insight into what her life had been or who her family was/is. It seems like an "easy" answer...young child is potentially abandoned in a village in Haiti, we should definitely step in. However, when we look at the faces of young children in America, our hearts are not moved in the same way. We can look the other way because there is a "system" in place to make sure they are taken care of. I cannot help but think it is a Christian's biggest cop-out to their calling to care for the orphans. We look the other way and let them live in group homes, never reaching their full potential because they do not have someone fighting for them. Many of these kids will end up back on the streets like their parents. We blame it on the system that we so quietly allow to raise these children. When will we step up and truly love the orphans?? Loving the unloved is painful...but it is right. My prayer is that this story may move at least one person into action to begin loving the unloved and provide a home for a child who is lost in the "system" that we entrust with more children than they can manage (to their own admission). May this story of my heart breaking not simply be a story to you; may it move you to do something more where God has you!