Thursday, October 08, 2009
HOPE for Bengali Orphans...and HOPE for me!
Between visiting the destitute children of the slums, to the sweat and push of thousands of desperate bodies seeking medical care at our clinic in Madhupur, to the sweet scent of dozens of newly bathed Orphan children as they clamoured into our laps wanting a bedtime story at Bangla-Hope...I have once again seen both extremes of Bangladesh. The side of despair and the side of HOPE!! The side of caus and pain, and the side of what could be if ALL of us "Rich American Christians" (we are rich compared with them) truly went out of our own comfort zones to give and care. And once again, my heart has been touched...and challenged.
After spending a grueling challenging week at the medical clinic where, as I mentioned before, we saw over 3,000 patients, going to the Bangla-Hope Orphanage in Northern Bangladesh was a real vacation. I had visited last year and spent time with the children, so it was a joy to return and be welcomed with open arms and delighted squeals from all the little kiddos... "Melody!!!! Melody!!! Melody is here!!" And they all clamoured for hugs and kisses. Melony, my little girl who I want to adopt someday, was the first that came running into my arms. (She was the first that I met last year when I came too!) I was sooo happy, I couldn't help letting the tears flow as Melony snuggled close and they gave us their welcoming ceremony. (Of course, it was sooo hot, my tears just mixed with the sweat - so it wasn't very obvious I was crying!) The kids were also quick to accept and welcome Valerie, and right off Valerie began to love and reach out to them as well. (It was a real treat to share this experience with my best friend!)
Thankfully, with the help of generous donors, I was able to bring clothes and supplies for the Orphanage as well as a special toy for each child - a doll for the older girls, animals for the younger, light-up balls for the boys etc. Orphan kids very rarely can claim something of their very own, so it was a joy to see the delight in their eyes as we wrote THEIR name on THEIR very own toy! Here I am below with my girl Melony (on my right) and Kocolie (on my left) who is the first child the Waid's took into their orphanage!As to be expected, our remaining week in Bangladesh at the Orphanage went all too quickly. Each day we spent as much time as possible with the kids, telling them stories, playing with them on the playground, doing games and teaching them songs. We also spent time with the care-givers (who are mostly local Christian women who have no formal education.) I talked with them about the principals of raising and loving children (as outlined in "Child-Guidance" - after all, I am not really my own expert on the topic, though I like to pretend to be at times. Ha ha!!) Then Valerie did basic CPR education and had the women take turns resuscitating a toy doll. (That was kinda funny!!!) Of course, another great joy was to see my Bengali sister Shati, who has such an incredible heart of gold. She always takes such good care of us when we visit and cooks the best food ever. But not only does she serve just us....she's one of the most hard-working and unselfish of the team and the kids just love her to death. It's nice to see the touch that Shati has with them. The most difficult part of the whole trip was saying goodbye...I literally thought I (if not the kids) were going to get "dehydrated from crying." In fact, the kids started crying 2 days BEFORE we left when they heard our time was almost over. I felt soooo bad. In fact, it made me wonder if maybe coming and then leaving again did more damage then good...after all, so many of these kids have either lost or been abandoned by their own parents. But after talking with my good friend Litton (who works in the Administration at Bangla-Hope, but also spends as much time with the kids as he can), I was encouraged that even though our time was brief...it meant sooo much to the kids to know they were loved and cared for, and that they mattered to people on the other side of the world. "They always remember you in their hearts...and just like this time...they can look forward to when you come again! It gives them a reason to HOPE...knowing someone cares!" So...with hugs and tears, we once again said goodbye. But the children and Bangla-Hope staff, and the sacrificial dedication of the Waid's and all those that help sponsor the children of Bangla-Hope are not forgotten. And Valerie and I are determined to be more frugal in our own lives so that we can help the Orphanage with their many needs and expansion.Already they have almost 100 children (there were 69 last year when I visited), but they are running out of room (they need to build a second floor). They are building a medical clinic for the Hindu community right at their doorstep, but need medical workers to come and staff it. They do multiple trips to Dhaka (7hours away for staff or supplies) and yet all they have is a 4 seater Toyota truck that breaks down or has to be pushed to start every time you turn around. (They need a larger vehicle or van that can carry their staff and supplies.) They have a huge beautiful lawn, but must put all their money into upkeep and feeding the children rather than buying a lawn-mover...so they cut the grass all BY HAND. (Can you imagine?? Yes, they need a lawn mower!) They have a garden, but need more tools to work it. They have an office where they keep up with all the business of running an Orphanage plus taking care of almost 600 children in their community feeding school programs, but their office equipment is old and breaking down. (They need new up to speed equipment.) They already have many "feeding day-schools" around Bangladesh, but they need funds for more. (There are sooo many kids yet unreached!) And the list of needs just goes on and on!!!!!!
If only all of us, would truly reach out with the resources God has given us...we could do SOOO MUCH MORE...yet...we are comfortable; Comfortable in our spacious mansions (you should see what little space they have to live in those Orphan rooms - clean and tidy, but still some with 18 kids to a room), comfortable with our heaping tables of food (the kids are well fed...but they pretty much only eat rice and curry with sometimes some vegetables and a banana for snack!) We are comfortable with our nice car or the variety of ware that our ward-robe boasts. (These kids are clean and clothed, but rarely have clothes or toys of their own!) We are comfortable giving our 10% tithe and offering, comfortable doing Sabbath afternoon outreach, and comfortable sharing our lunch with a friend at work. But the Bengali missionaries that work for their people often live on less than $100 a month and barely get by, living in conditions that would make us stutter. Sacrifice...true sacrifice for the Orphan, the widow, the outcast... Who of us really knows what that is???? I'll be the first to say, "I don't!"
Valerie and I have been humbled and challenged...and convicted...in a deeper way to make priority to share the resources God has given us...with Bangla-Hope, but also with anyone that God brings us in need.
"Said the angel, 'Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye will have to die a greater death to the world than ye have ever yet died.' I saw that there was a great work to do for them and but little time in which to do it." Early Writings, Page 64.
"By all that has given us advantage over another, be it education and retirement, nobility of character, Christian training, religious experience, we are in debt to those less favored, and so far as lies in our power, we are to minister unto them. If we are strong, we are to stay up the hands of the weak." Ministry of Healing 29
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." Matt 19:21
*To donate to Bangla-HOPE or help sponsor a child, you can visit their website at: http://www.banglahope.org/ I am hoping to help them completely redo their website in the near future as it is in severe need of a face-lift, but for now, this is their contact info.