by Kara, Children at Risk DTS student
The first child I saw at the orphanage for kids devastated by HIV/AIDS was a little boy with a crusty nose. I could see curiosity and fear in his eyes as he scanned our group. I’m a really friendly person who loves to draw out shy people — especially kids. So I walked over to him, but he just turned and ran away. I kept my distance until he could feel more comfortable with us, but I still followed him around the building. He bent down to pick up a dirty, plastic bag. I thought he was just being helpful, cleaning up the garbage. But then it hit me — this bag was his toy.
The second day we were there, this little boy still looked worried and afraid of us. Everything inside of me just wanted to scoop him up and hold him, but I let him have his space. We had a dance party for the kids–so much fun! The music blared, kids sang, we danced together. And then a small hand slipped into mine. I looked down and saw the little boy, his eyes wide open and staring at me.
One our third and last day at the orphanage, this little boy sat outside waiting for us. He immediately grabbed my hand and tugged me behind him. We played for the rest of the afternoon! I learned his name. We had so much fun playing–bubbles, chalk, tag, card games! Everything we did brought such joy to his face.
When it was time to go I picked him up and said goodbye.
“Come tomorrow?” he asked, looking me right in the eyes.
“No,” I said, shaking my head.
He furrowed his brow and scowled. I understood how he felt.
I walked back to the office and scanned the board of names with life-threatening illnesses, this time matching their names to the faces I had come to love. My heart sank as I saw the name his name written in bold letters on the board.
The ride home was silent except for the quiet sobs of some of my team mates. Even now as I write, I feel a lump in my throat.
My visit to this home has left my head swimming with 1,000 questions. All I can do is rest with a peace that God loves these kids even more than I do. I close my eyes and pray, “Dear God, I pray for healing for this boy, I pray that he would feel your comfort and that he would live a long happy life. Please be close to him. Amen.”