From Broken Hearts to Hearts Transformed
On a recent trip, I had the man next to me on the plane ask me what I did for a living. I started to explain to him about our work in China and how many children around the world live as orphans. He got quiet for a moment and then said, “I bet there are days that you wish you didn’t know that. It would probably be a whole lot easier on your heart.”
Now it was my turn to be quiet. I thought about his words, and about all the children we have tried to help. I thought about the sadness and grief I have felt when a child is especially sick or when we are tragically too late. I thought about the always present feeling that we are never doing enough – that there are always more children in need than resources available. I quickly let that question run through my mind: would it be better to not know that so many children around the world live in such need?
But the reality is I do know. And once you KNOW — once you have stepped into an orphanage and seen the rows of cribs filled with children who need anyone to believe in them –- there is no turning back. And just like a rainbow that peeks through the dark clouds and causes your heart to beat with wonder, each and every child we can heal and give a second chance truly takes my breath away. I carry the images of thousands of children in my heart.
Babies like Emillio, born needing immediate surgery and who quickly became failure to thrive. Babies like little Farrell, abandoned as a newborn with third degree burns over the lower half of his body. Babies like Ella – born with a severe heart defect and put in a corner crib of an orphanage that is trying to care for over 400 children. All of these babies had every odd stacked against them. The beginnings of their lives bring nothing but sadness to our hearts. And yet, because of caring people around the world who stepped forward to help them, all three have been given a second chance at a happier life.
And so I turned back to the man and told him that I supposed a lot of people would think he was right. Perhaps being completely unaware would somehow be “easier.” But working with these children, who fight with everything they have to hang on for another day of life has changed me forever, and I know they have changed me for the GOOD. They have shown me that nothing in our lives should be taken for granted. Every day we are given a choice to either be a bystander or an active participant in this complex thing called life. And while it is true that getting involved with children who are hurting often means your heart will be broken, it also means your heart will be transformed.
When you take the chance to reach out to someone in need –- you allow the chance for a miracle to grow.
Amy Eldridge is the Executive Director of LWB.