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Redefining the orphan

On Monday we went to an orphanage out in the sticks.  Though, I think ‘out in the sewage’ would be a more accurate phrase.  Because of the rain, the orphanage turned into an island surrounded by nasty standing water shin deep.  The outdoor bathrooms had flooded, causing the bathroom water to spill in with the flood water.  Further, the backyard of the orphanage is a small farm with dogs, pigs, chickens, geese, and other animals that poop.  This all melded into one in the water.  We just hiked up our pants and trudged through it, motivating ourselves with the mentality that these people walk through this on a regular basis.  At the orphanage, our team played games with the children there with the intent of just enjoying community together.  I stood off to the side with Sien (our translator) and the owner of the orphanage and inquired about his desire to own an orphanage and his perspectives, desires, and timeline surrounding it.  In fact, his wife and 3 children live there with him.  It was a new concept for me to analyze: an orphanage director living there with his wife and children.  His own children live in the orphanage like the children without parents.
That brings me to another point.  Upon our arrival, he shared with us how there weren’t many kids there this day, because ‘many of the orphans went home for holiday’.  I’m sorry…what?? How do the orphans…go home?  In Cambodia (called Kampuchea by the people here), there are many children with the title of orphan, whose parents are alive and often not far away.  The parents have chosen to disown their children because they can’t support them or just don’t want to parent them.  To me, this is worse than being an orphan with dead parents.  Parents who are very much alive and choose to give you up has to be one of the most destructive things for a child.  I want to love them, encourage them, redefine their value and teach them that their identity is not an orphan but a child of God, a Father that will never leave.

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