The Orphans

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It was a stormy day in Quito, Ecuador; my family and I marched up the steps to a meager apartment. As we were welcomed into the humble abode, a stench of urine penetrated my nostrils. I had to concentrate to hold in the natural gag reflex. “Dad, I’ve got to get out of here!” I was absorbed in my own self-interest and pity until the foster parents began to introduce us to five special needs boys. As I shook hands with each boy, my heart began to soften, and the stench that just moments before was overwhelming, seemed to disappear as I witnessed the precious change in their countenances.

Carlos, Edison, Pablo, Jonathon, and Enrique all suffer from severe disabilities. The young boys stayed cooped up inside the cramped, dingy apartment until the orphanage volunteers visited once a week. It was clear by the looks on their faces that they lived for the knock on the door that came all too seldom. Though it was raining, we each grabbed a boy by the hand and began our walk to the bread shop. I walked with little Enrique. His vocabulary consisted merely of mumbles and grunts. Every few minutes, though, Enrique would make a shrill sound and smile. It took me a while, but I realized he was expressing happiness. At that moment, Enrique changed me.

Upon arriving at the bread shop, the youngest, Edison, cried out with excitement, “Pain! Pain!” We bought more bread than we imagined they could possibly consume. We watched in awe as every crumb was devoured, like a starving pack of wolves attacking their prey. Their grateful and satisfied expressions are ones that I will never forget. Bread, a dull staple food we encounter everyday was a fine feast for those disabled orphans.

Our final destination was the park. Enrique had no desire to run and play but simply wanted to sit on the bench with me, holding hands. Pablo did not speak a word to anyone but picked up trash, one of his favorite pastimes. He held on to his trash as if it were treasure in his hands instead of wrappers and soda cans. Jonathon, wheelchair bound, suffering from muscular dystrophy, shared a special bond with my oldest brother, Andrew. Andrew raced Jonathon around the park in his wheelchair, giving him, for a few brief moments, freedom, excitement, and happiness.

People say that we give service to help others and to benefit the less fortunate. As I entered the country of Ecuador I expected to share love and give aid to little orphans, but the little orphans shared love with me and gave my heart and soul aid. I grew tremendously in a few short days. I learned to be thankful for everything. I learned that love and friendship have no barriers. I learned that everyone is special in his or her own way. Trying to express my feelings for those orphans is impossible; the experience was life changing. The memories of that spring break will always remain close to my heart, along with the lessons I learned and the friends that I made.





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S.E.E.K said...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm
Thank you Madeleine for this article. it has influenced me to the greater good and has made me want to help out all orphans.
 
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