Orphan Survival Stories Index |
I cannot help the tears that come into my eyes when I hear the song "We are the world; We are the children" (Africa USA). It breaks my heart to know there are thousands of children all over the world who are hungry and starving.
In spite of all that, I cannot help but have this picture in the back of my mind. It’s a black and white photo of we orphan kids standing with our leaf rakes in hand. All of us with dirty little faces and all standing with our little hands sticking through the six-foot high, chain-link fence. Our little eyes looking out and peeking at the outside world. Each of us standing there, silently hoping that somewhere, someday there has to be a better and happier place somewhere.
I always tried to be thankful for having a clean bed to sleep in. I tried to be thankful that I had lots of warm, powered milk to drink, as well as piles of eggplant to eat. With all my heart, I really did, but it was so very hard to be thankful for anything when you feel sad and lonely all the time.
We kids ranged in age from 5 to 10. Every day after school we stood hour after hour, just watching through the holes of the orphanage fence. Each boy stood quietly watching, as ‘the normal kids’ were driven by the orphanage on their way home. Families laughing out loud and joking with one another, all headed to this very loving and special place they call ‘home.’
"I wonder if all those kids have to clean toilets and rake leaves all day long after school?" asked one of the boys.
"I think all kids have to work in order to be able to eat every day," said another.
"My granny didn't make me work when she gave me a cucumber to eat one time," I said. "But that's 'cause she hit me in the face with the hard, brown belt."
"Maybe we’re here at this place 'cause we didn't work hard enough when we had a home of our own," said one of the younger boys.
"That ain't the way it is at all," said Wayne.
"What is the way it is?" asked Frankie.
"Sometimes grown-ups just don't want you know more," he said.
I looked down the row of kids and saw several of them with tears running down their cheeks.
"It don't bother me no more to be here," I told Wayne. "Someday, we'll have our own car, and we can laugh and talk just like all those other kids do."
"That's a long, long time away," said Wayne.
Many years have passed since those days. Last year, I found Wayne living in a very bad part of Jacksonville, Florida. He was living in an old abandoned house. It had no glass in the windows and the door was off its hinges. There was no furniture in the house, except an old love seat and a mattress lying on the floor in the corner. When I walked in, Wayne was sitting on the old love seat, something he found discarded in one of the many alleys. It had no cushions and the back was full of holes. There he sat, motionless, with his little dog.
"Wayne, it's me, Roger Kiser. Let's get out of here and go to get something to eat," I told him as I wrapped my arm around his neck.
On the way to the restaurant, neither one of us spoke a word. I looked up at his face several different times.
"Wayne, this was supposed to be the time when we were to laugh and talk while riding in our own car. Don't you remember?" I thought.