This web site contains stories of physical, mental, emotional, and sexual child abuse.

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Every year after we returned to school, the teacher made each student stand up in front of the class and tell what he or she did for summer vacation. There never was a vacation for us kids in the orphanage. I dreaded being called up in front of the class to give my little speech.

That was the first time in my life that I realized something: in order to be as good as everyone else in the world, I had to become a very good liar. Excu-u-u-use me!

I do remember one vacation that we orphans had while living in the Children's Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida. I had forgotten all about it. It was a visit to a summer camp called Immokalee. I guess that was an Indian name of some sort. Evidently, there was an agreement between the orphanage and the camp officials that the orphans would be allowed to go to the summer camp for one week, but they would have to work to earn their keep and to pay their own way.

That was fine, except for one thing: we worked the entire time that we were at the camp. I mean we worked - hard too. We raked leaves and pine straw. We cleaned dishes and washed tables after everyone else ate. We even had to eat after everyone else was through. I remember having to clean off the head guy's car, because birds had messed on it. I really wanted to go with the other kids to shoot the bow and arrows, but I had to clean that car. That task really hurt me, because I think I would have been very good with bows and arrows, but I never got the chance to try.

Even as a child, I never minded working for what I got. The work is not what bothered me. What bothered me was the fact that we always had to work, that we were always ridiculed and made fun of while all the other normal children got to play - with no strings attached. By the time we got to have any fun, it was already too late for us orphans to enjoy ourselves, because everybody already knew that we were not like them, that we were different in that we did not have any parents. Therefore, everyone had to service the needs of the normal children first. The orphan always came second, if at all.

It was terrible to have to live like that. It was horrible having to walk around with our heads down and always looking at the ground, because we did not want to look anyone in the eye. I know that many of the adults who tried to do things for us orphans thought they were doing us a great favor, that they were being kind and generous toward us. On the one hand, they were. But on the other hand, they were destroying us inside. They were degrading us as human beings. What if we had been in wheelchairs? Would they have expected us to rake leaves and wash dishes - of course not? They'd have wanted us to feel equal to all the other kids at the camp.

We orphans were in wheelchairs, guys. You just did not look hard enough.

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