I crept with trepidation and fear towards the darkness. I peered with weary eyes over the ledge and my soul lurched. With trembling hands I reached out and embraced the broken, and my heart cried “Where are you God”. I held the boy whose bones fought to escape thin skin, whose heart fought to remain beating. I touched the boy and the darkness swirled in my mind and I was angry and cried out at the injustice of a child who is 15 years old and weighs less than 30 pounds. And I lifted him and I vowed never to forget…I promised myself I’d always carry the weight of this moment, a weight that would always be more burdensome than the child I carried onto that plane.
Yesterday I had full intention to unpack my travel bag. I had just returned from Eastern Europe, where I had helped provide assistance to transport a medically fragile orphan home to the US. I have debated sharing this trip because it was difficult. It did not end how I desired and in truth left me feeling empty and sad. I feel overwhelmed by the need and don’t understand the bigger picture. A part of me wants to quit and return to much simpler days. If I am quiet, maybe I’ll forget. But as I unpacked my bag, the smell of an orphan lingered in the soiled clothing and I felt sick. I knew that I needed to unpack more than my bag, so I have set pen to paper to unpack my thoughts. I’ve determined I will not remain silent, I will write these things down, so that I will remember. I know that I will often feel powerless to prevent injustice, but I can never, ever remain silent.
I will never forget the smell of an orphan. A pungent mixture of fear-laced sweat, decayed teeth and neglect.
I will not forget the silence of an orphanage, because children do not cry, children do not laugh,..children are silent when no one responds.
I will never forget the faces of those left behind, the despair of an overburdened orphanage staff, and the rows of souls lined up to die in beds…alone. I won’t forget limbs that grow stiff and crooked as the metal crib bars press them into unnatural positions.
I will never forget the boy I traveled with. The boy who had worn a straight jacket for years, contained and confined for hours on end. The boy with a body temperature of 94 degrees because he was so emaciated. I’ll never forget how it felt to cradle and lift a human skeleton.
I will never forget the boy who I carried off a plane. A living example of the future chosen for my son, Israel, who was placed in an orphanage at birth and labeled “malformed”. Yes, a reminder of what happens to children who are not adopted and transferred to an institution. He is the 15% that do not die.
While I held this boy on the plane with my hand on his chest feeling his heart beat, it shocked me to think that he resembled a holocaust survivor. And I guess this is true…these children are being targeted and exterminated for being weak, malformed, and imperfect. Yes, they are chosen at birth because of deformities and imperfections and cast aside. I am asked, “What is wrong with him, what’s his diagnosis?” I dare say that I know of no diagnosis that looks like this. The moment we measure human worth by IQ points or physical stature, is when a diagnosis justifies the picture below.
And the world is standing by silently and unbelieving. This is not happening, this is just one child, this is just one orphanage, this is not my country. We stand in unbelief and thousands die and we are quiet; and we silently point a finger of blame without lifting a hand of help.
Today, I will not be quiet, I am standing loud and shouting to you “LOOK”. Look WORLD, upon these children.
Look world, please see this one….because he is more than just one. He is not a diagnosis, a foreigner, or someone else’s problem. He is a child, among many children who need someone to speak up, someone to shout loudly,…because orphans do not cry out for help when no one listens, no one comes.
And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
Elie Wiesel – Holocaust survivor
Waiting children can be found here… http://reecesrainbow.org/category/newly-listed