I took this photo back in 2009. My little girl was just about a month old. I wanted to memorize every dimple in her hand and wanted to imprint in my memory how it felt like when she first grabbed my finger and wouldn’t let go.
I posted this photo because I had a similar moment yesterday. This time, it wasn’t just one hand. It was many tiny hands that curiously tugged at my sweater and my hair. Tiny hands that playfully tapped at my belly with much curiosity. Tiny fingers that belonged to toddlers and babies that lived in one loving home. They all lived in an orphanage.
I wouldn’t get into detail as to how I got there or why I was there in the first place. Nor can I post photos of these kids as their identities have to be protected. But it was my first time to ever go to an orphanage. And however brief the experience was, I don’t think I will ever be the same.
There were 14 babies, one as young as 2 days old. And there were about 15 toddlers, all about the same age as my kid. They were all housed in a orphanage in Parañaque where their only mommies are the caretakers and the nuns who take care of each of them every single day and night. These children were abandoned by their parents. My heart broke into pieces every time we were given a background story of how a child ended up in the home. Some of them were left at the doorstep, and there was one child…well I can’t even find the courage to say it. The mere thought of it makes me want to cry. Let’s just say, it would be the last place you would ever think to find a baby. Luckily, they found the baby there and took the child in.
Most of them looked at us with much hesitation. I couldn’t blame them. We were strangers after all. People they’ve never seen in their life. But some of them went out of their way to wave at us or give us a tight embrace. There was one little boy, about 2 or 3 years old. The moment he saw me from across the room, he ran towards me and gestured right away that he wanted to be picked up. The moment I took him in my arms, he gave me a tight embrace, even his legs were wrapped tightly around me. He rested his head on my shoulder and just stayed there for a long time. When we had to leave, he wouldn’t budge. I wanted to keep him. If only if it were that easy.
Thinking about those kids who are all hungry for love and attention, who have been abandoned by their parents…I can’t explain the depth of how this affects me. If anything, I’m just glad that they have warm beds to sleep in, and people who constantly work hard to bathe them, feed them and look after their needs. But they rely heavily on donations from people. And to provide for the needs for about 30 children, I can just imagine how difficult that must be. But as one of the nuns told us yesterday, she said “the Lord always provides”. That he does.
It was an overwhelming experience. No wonder a lot of people opt to celebrate their birthdays in the orphanage. Being there feels like we were touched by an angel, or in this case by many sweet little Cherubs. Until the next opportunity that I get to touch those tiny fingers again, those children will be in my thoughts and prayers.