MY ORPHANAGE EXPERIENCE_ prt
It came as a shock to me. No warning, no preparation, no explanation. One day she just packed me up and dropped me off.
I believe I was either five or six when my mother dropped me off at the orphanage. It was called: Acres of hope. I honestly can’t remember anything before the drop off. She dressed me in my best: a traditional African skirt and blouse. It was like a mustard color with some orange and green in it (I’m honestly not sure how I remember that😀). My mother only really dressed me up if there was something big or important going on or if we were going to church- So by what I was wearing, I knew it wasn’t a regular day. I was excited inside, thinking we were going to have some fun, but as you can imagine my disappointment when we arrived at the orphanage. I didn’t even know what an orphanage was. It never EVER occurred to me that there were kids out there with no home or family, not a single bit. And now… I would become one of those kids.
After dressing me up, she packed a small bag for me, held my hand, and we were off.
I can’t remember how long it took us to get there. I don’t know if we took transportation or just walked the whole way. We probably walked at some point because my feet were covered in dust from the dirt roads.
When we arrived I can’t quite remember my initial reaction. I had no idea where we were, but I knew I’d never been there before. I was probably just wondering what this place was, and why we dressed up to go there.
I remember it was this big building. I believe it was a dark brown and red brick color. It had this big and open space in the front for sitting, greeting and other activities. The orphanage name was plastered on the front gates, which were blue. At the top of the walls there were barbed wires and small pieces of broken glass cemented into the top (probably glass bottles). It was most likely there to keep kids from running away, and to keep unwanted guests from coming in.
Though my memory is pretty foggy, I do remember being pretty unsure of what was going on. I could feel the tension in the air and it wasn’t one I was used to.
The normal good spirit I felt often, I couldn’t feel in those moments. I felt something different inside- but I just stayed quiet and followed my mother. Being quiet seemed to be something I was good at so I continued with it.
I was a pretty quiet girl growing up (I know, hard to believe that now😀) I stayed to myself most of the time. I did what was expected of me, and then spent the rest of my day by myself (since I was the only child, at least from what I was told) Sometimes I would have fun with my friends! I always tried to stay out of trouble, and helped where I could.
Because I was a quieter child, it gave me plenty of time to observe, and take notes of what was going on around me. Being quiet made people think I was dumb and didn’t pay attention, but I was actually doing the total opposite. I knew some of the things going on around me weren't good, but I didn’t know how to speak out yet- so I stayed quiet since I was good at that. When I did try to speak I felt like I wasn’t actually being heard.
It was often during my quiet moments that God was teaching me things and just being with me.
Something interesting I noticed early on in my life (especially starting in Liberia) was how present and often I felt God’s Spirit guiding me and helping me. I heard his voice as clear as day almost all the time. I often thought it was just me in my head, but with all the many neat and often trembling situations and circumstances I’d find myself in, I knew there had to be something more helping me than just my thoughts in my head. I knew there was a God and that He lived, but I didn’t understand how real He really was nor did I understand how real His Spirit could feel.
You’re probably wondering what these two paragraphs have to do with my orphanage experience right? Well just keep reading. You’ll see how from the second I got to the orphanage, the feeling of what I assumed could only be God's Spirit, got stronger and deeper. When I’d find myself alone and feeling what I could now presume was hopelessness, God’s Spirit would visit me and give me a boost of hope and love. As I’ve looked back I see how present my Heavenly Father was in my life, and how much He actually cared about what was happening with my complicated childhood already. These feelings of the Spirit lead to some of my most sacred childhood experiences in Liberia and the U.S.
I can only remember part of what occurred next.
We entered the gate and there were kids and what I can only assume was their parents saying hello’s or even goodbyes? I still had no clue what was going on and why we were there.
I do remember my mother talking to an adult, I can’t remember if it was a man or woman. I do remember whoever it was looking at my mother and I telling us “this is the rule”
I had no idea what the person meant by that, but I listened anyway. The person continued and said something along the lines of:
‘If you ever cry or even shed one tear, you’ll never see you mother again’…😔
Can you imagine what I might have been thinking and feeling after hearing those words?
What did this person even mean by “never see my mother again?… Was this person going crazy or trying to scare me?
If you were in my situation how would you have reacted, especially at that age ?
What do you even say?
Especially only being five or six as I was.
At that age you are still pretty reliant on your mother for everything, yet, this person just told me I’d ‘never see my mother again if I cry.
First- why would I not be seeing my mother? &
Second- what reason would I have to cry?
I honestly remember being a little scared and of course very confused. I just looked at the person and then my mother, but neither of them gave me an explanation of what was going on.
After just a few seconds, they didn’t need to provide any explanation because what happened next was enough. I’d felt alone, abandoned, confused, heartbroken and everything in between. Out of everything that could have happened in my day, this… this was the worst.
My mother handed me my little bag she packed, (I don’t even remember if she hugged me), and then she walked away without turning back. My world was broken. Shattered in infinite pieces of sadness, pain, hurt, loneliness and anger that would never be fixed. I was still trying to process what this place was and why I was here, and the last thing I would have guessed would be my mother leaving me, walking away and not taking me with her.
Why was she doing this?
Why is she leaving me?
So, so many unanswered questions. Though I was still very young I tried to think about what I’d done that was so bad to end up here.
What did she ask me to do that I didn’t?
Did I say something wrong to her?
What did I do to end up here?
These questions went on and on and on in my head. There was no end to them (and I think I knew deep down I’d never find the answer)
I tried to think about how there must be a reason for why I’m here.
Maybe she’s teaching me a lesson?
She’s never done anything like this before so I really had nothing to go off of, so I did what I was taught to do best and that was to be a good girl and listen- so that's what I did.
I watched her walk away and just stood there eyes wide open. I didn’t say a word or cry a whine (even tho inside I was so sad and confused)
My thoughts continued to amuse me:
Maybe she’s coming back tomorrow.
Maybe she’s just having me try this place out.
Ok, I thought to myself, I’ll be the best listener and do what I’m asked, and then my mother will come back and we can be together again. This was the best thought I could come up with and it was satisfying for me so I went with it.
The first day went by and she didn’t come.
The second day went by and she didn’t come.
The third day went by and she didn’t come.
Days and days went by and no sign of her.
A whole week went by and no sign of her.
We’d never been apart for more than a day or two so I began to get very scared and troubled.
Why hasn’t she come yet?
I’ve been really good and have listened well, and did what I was told.
I haven’t even cried either (which wasn’t normal because any child who is placed in such a harsh situation like that would have been balling the second their mother walked away) I’ve been doing good with that. Why isn’t she here?
Slowly but surely it sunk in that my mother was not coming back. EVER!
This was so hard for me to comprehend (I don’t even know how I survived that day, that place- let alone a whole year and a half)
I didn’t know what I did to have this treatment but unfortunately, I could not do anything about it.
There were times where I was distracted from my sadness and couldn’t feel it, but there were many more days where I wanted to cry out loud, scream even. This is so unfair. Why would she do this to her own daughter? There was so much anger and sadness in me, but I knew it wouldn’t bring her to me. Though I was never mad at her for doing what she did to me, it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
Little by little, slowly but surely God began to show Himself more and more to me.
He didn’t take away the hole in my heart, but He did fill it with his love and comfort as time went on. No, it didn’t happen right away, but it happened when God felt it was right.
-To Be Continued
Continue to read and follow me for part 2 of my orphanage experiences. Share my blog and story with your friends and families or invite them to read along with you. I want to help many people out there see how possible it is to overcome hard and unfair circumstances by turning to God.
Thank you for joining this read,
Hope to have you back soon!