From a mother`s perspective:
Every visit to My Home orphanage is one that i look forward to with anticipation and joy. I miss my kids there so much, and it is always a pleasure to reconnect with them in person.
This trip was no different. Michelle our daughter came along with me, and we both were giddy with anticipation as we landed in what she now calls her second home. Knowing that her brothers and sisters was just kilometers away was almost too much to handle. But alas, the wait was over. Michael and Alex, to of the older boys from the orphanage, met us at the dock along with Prince Sama who is the manager of My Home. They had grown so much and towered over their «mom» with pride. Hugs and kisses were exchanged and the feeling of comming home sunk in even deeper. Michelle immediately bonded with her «brothers», and family time begun.
The next morning we bundeled into a land rover with all the suitcases on top as we drove the 1 hour commute to Calaba town, where the orphanage lies. The anticipaton was electric as we approched the gates of the My Home compound. The gates opened wide and as we drove in, the kids swarmed around the car to welcome us. The doors opened, and arms reached in and pulled us out and we were swaddeled in hugs and kissed. There was no doubt that «We had come home.»
We were escorted upstairs, surrounded by touches, and hugs as we walked. It was good to see the smiling, happy faces of them all. Looking healthy and joyful, safe and secured, loved and protected. Those beautiful qualities that can be found between the walls and in the halls of My Home orphanage.
I had taken guests with me on this trip as well, and it was great to see the bond that was immediately beginning to form, as they shyly got to know each other.
The day went on with much fun, laughter, dancing and playing in the yard. With laughter and sounds of happy voices filling the air, i wandered around the corridors of My Home.
I walked into each room, happy to see that everything was in place, and that the kids were enjoying good living conditions. Memories of the first time that some of the kids laid in a bed for the first time came flooding back. The feeling of knowing that every night they can safely tuck themselves into bed, surrounded by the 4 aunties and Prince who live and work at My Home, is reassruring to me. I stood leaning against the bedroom door, with a smile on my face.
The next day we all rented a bus and went to the beach for a picnic. This is always a highlight on our trips, as the kids love to get away from the city and into the countryside, and onto the beach where they can splash around and frollic in the water.
All grown up:
Our oldest two kids Wilson Kanje and Margaret Kabba came home for easter holiday to spend time with us. It was wonderful to see them, as they now reside at the university a few hours away, there Margaret is now studying nursing and Wilson, Rural development studies. The kids were all estatic to see them again. Nothing brings me more joy than to see the closeness and love that the kids have for each other. They are indeed one big happy family.
Three of our youths are now taking exams to see if they too can get into university in the fall, and they are excited to be able to persue their dreams and careers. The seriousness that they show towards their studies makes me so proud. They are often reminded that they have been given a gift, and a great opportunity, and they work hard so as to utalize every advantage given. This is all any parent can ask for, and it is wonderful to see that they are stretching toward their goals and finding their purpose in life.
As the days went by, the bond between Michelle and her My Home brothers and sisters grew more and more close. Though they come from two different worlds, their hearts were the same. They laughted, danced, played, and teased each other. There was genuine love and connection there. Michelle said she felt like she belonged and was at home.
We have been blessed with great staff who do a fantastic job with the children. They treat them like their very own. My talks with the aunties conserning each child was enlightening. I love to hear details on each child. How they are doing at home, at school, in their relationships with each other, and what their hopes and fears are. This allows me to be able to cater to each child individally. This outside view is always good, as the aunties live with the kids and know them intimately. These insights, along with my own experiences and observations help me to see deeper into each of our kids and enables me to know them on a deeper level than time would allow on our short visits.
Then came the day that we had to say goodbye. I was not prepared for the flood of emotions that washed over us. Arms tightly sqeezing around my waist, tears pouring down the faces of my beautiful children. The sadness was overwhelming. They held each other, held on to us, hugged and kissed us, and reluctant to let us go.
The uncondtional love, safety, and the bond they feel was evident in the way they showed their emotions. They asked us to come back soon, and said how much they miss us when we are not there. It was so emotional and so difficult to leave them this time around. I can only imagine that their emotions come from a place of knowing that we do love them, and we do want the very best for them, and that their lives do matter to us.
In the beginning when they came into our family, with nothing but their past experiences to go by, it was difficult to imagine that a stranger would take you in, give you a home, food, education, security, love, acceptance and a family, just because they wanted to. This is not something that the kids and many of the children in Sierra Leone are accustomed to. Their reality is much more dramatic. So the tangible love and acceptance they receive from us, is something that can be overwhelming for them and many who have experienced it as they visit the My Home family.
All this is only possible because of team work. Our willingness to do what we do, and all of the people who in your willingness to give, wheather it be monitary, clothes, shoes, time, volenteering in one way or the other, makes all this possible.
It all adds up, and the end result is a happy, healthy and loving «My Home family».