To Remember, To Advocate

This post is brought to us by Rachel.

Every morning I wake up to the salient crow of a rooster, and I find it much more efficient than the morning alarm clock on my phone. I mean, there is no way to snooze or muffle it, is there? So each day here is started with a pleasant reminder of where I am, far away from the busy, gray life of alarms and deadlines, in a country of endless verdure (and cageless poultry).

This week marks the end of our first month here in Ghana. So far, we have profiled three orphanages, of which each had more than twenty children.  Remembering dozens of children is immensely harder than I wish it were. Some names need to be repeated more than others, some faces looked into more closely than others.  Through every eye contact, every high-five, every hug, as I convey the love they so rightly deserve, I try to remember them as hard as possible. One may ask why I make such effort, if I have to say goodbye to them shortly.

Because once I really know them, more than their faces and names, I then could understand their stories on a deeper level. Their individual tales of woe, told from the bits and pieces of information we scraped from documents and interviews, are discussed at the end of the profiling process. During this step called Child Care Conference, we come up with individualized care plans for the children to further facilitate their exit of the orphanage. The emotional connections I have built with them individually at times bring me pain; as I read the many injustices they had to endure in the past, I realize that those are wounds they had to smile through at me. But it is also these very personal contacts I have built with them that enable me to engage more with the conference. I find myself adding one more comment, question, or suggestion to ensure that the plan we are drafting will best secure the child’s happiness. For this, I continue my effort to get to know and remember the children individually, and become their best advocator I strive to be.