Within seconds of walking through the gate I had two little girls running to me, one literally climbing up me like a tree to get in my arms, a boy toddled after them and clung to my leg, all smiles and excitement. This is Lazare’s Orphanage where a Mercy Ministry team has been visiting twice a week for the past ten months, bringing with them Bible lessons, arts and crafts, and loving arms to hold lonely children and eager feet ready to play with laughing boys and girls.
Of all the orphanages I’ve seen during mission trips and whatnot this is one of the best I’ve seen yet it still breaks my heart and it was only by the grace of God I didn’t break down in tears the 90 minutes I was there. It doesn’t matter if its an orphanage in Russia, Mexico or Africa my heart still weighs heavy seeing so many unwanted children and knowing that the brief time I’m there with them doesn’t change their circumstance. I always leave wanting to do more, to take one home, to send supplies, etc. But I while I’m there I try only to make them smile, to show them what love is and to give some value to there small life.
At Lazare’s so many of these kids have already been through so much in their short years which angers and saddens me that so much of their innocence is lost before even their fifth birthday. But I am thankful for places such as Lazare’s who offer them a safe place to grow and learn and hopefully be adopted out of and for organizations like Mercy Ships that take time not just visit but to invest in those small lives.
I’d like to share one child’s story from the orphanage and ask for you to pray and hope with us that she is adopted out before the ship leaves (three weeks!):
She is a vivacious four year old with a sweet smile and giggle. She wears pink from head to toe and her eyes light up when she sees our group come in. She grabs onto the handles of her little walker and starts walking eagerly towards us. She is immediately hugged by someone and then another. She claps her hands and follows the other kids to fish balls and toys out of the giant IKEA bag. She gets a ball and awkwardly tosses it, laughing and tries to chase after it using her red handled walker.
I find out she was left at a police station because as a toddler her parents saw something was wrong with her, they believed it was a demon in her and gave her up. In actuality she has a mild form of cerebral palsy. She used to sit by herself at the orphanage, didn’t play or talk the other children. Then Mercy Ministries started visiting the orphanage, upon noticing her they brought her to the ship for physical therapy and provided her with a small walker. After a lot of work and love she now has the chance to thrive, she laughs, she plays, she fights off any of the kids who try to take her walker, she sings and she even dances.
But soon we will leave and the continued care she needs may or may not be consistent or even addressed. She is a person of no value to many here, one nanny in the orphanage used to tease her telling her she is retard who will never do anything and no one loves. Can you imagine being told such a thing at three years old?! The work the team has done for her is beautiful and huge but there is no guarantee it will be continued. Which is why many of us here are praying for someone to adopt her soon, to provide for her the care and love she needs to grow into a strong woman with a loving family to support her.