Congo’s war has produced more casualties since the end of WWII. It has been the UN’s largest peace keeping mission to date. The most tragic result of any war is the toll it takes on the most innocent – the children. The orphaned children in Congo number in the millions and some reside in the many orphanages in Kinshasa, some become street children. On each visit to Congo, I visit some of these orphanages. On my last trip, in one of these orphanages, a little boy touched my soul and left a lasting impression on me.
Each visit to an orphanage always proves to be heartbreaking. Orphaned children milling about who have no families, no parents, no sisters, brothers or grandparents. No one to love them, hug them, nurture them or make the feel safe. During a visit in August 2010, while our foreign attorney was showing me about, we passed a little boy who was watching our every move. The attorney stopped in front of him and said, “He asks me every time I come here, when I will find him a family, and with tears in his eyes.”
I stopped and looked at this little boy. So small, so thin, eyes sunken and wide open staring at me. My mommy’s heart was breaking. I knelt down in front of this youngster and looked into his eyes, looked into a face with no expression. I reached out and touched his arm. Still there was no change in expression. I hugged him and felt skin and bones. He stood lifeless and did not hug back. He just stood staring at me. This was heart wrenching for me. This boy had watched as our staff came to place available children with prospective adoptive parents. With each trip to the orphanage he was being passed up, passed up because he was an older child. Without knowing his past I knew that he must have felt helpless and discouraged each time she came and left with another child. I could only imagine the despair he felt at being passed up, for one of the younger children. After all, most parents are looking for infants or much younger children. These older children in the orphanages come to understand this. The older they become the less likely they will be adopted.
My eyes began to well with tears. I stood up and told her to translate for me. “Tell him I will look for a family for him.” She translated and I watched his face, still expressionless. He nodded, turned and walked away.
It is very hard to walk away from these children. Your first instinct is to take them all home and care for them. When we left the orphanage I knew in my heart I would be finding him a home. I made it my mission when I returned to the States. His memory haunted me daily, thinking of the emotions he must have been feeling.
Come back tomorrow to read what happened once Sonja returned home (Part 2 of Just a Boy Waiting for a Home).