Fasting for me is usually a very private matter. Normally, I fast secretly with a specific focus on a prayer intention. Not today and tomorrow, however. I will be tooting my horn and fasting from now until July 3 for Compassion International, because all day long I believed in my heart of hearts it was June 30, instead of July 1, the day I am on for this important 40 Day Fast.
I ask you not to think about it and forget soon after, but go now and sponsor a child at their website. Any charity watchdog organization knows these people are all about releasing children from poverty for real. Our family sponsors three boys and a girl just like my own little brood. It's a little like adoption without all the work.
I'll focus the rest of my post on a particular day I gained perspective and longed to see a nation released from poverty. My son and I took a trip to China a few years ago. One day we spent holding babies, blowing bubbles, spooning food, comforting toddlers, and looking through books with older disabled children in an orphanage there. It was privately paid for by Americans with half given to the Chinese. The grounds, the buildings, the rooms ,full of toys and fun, were pristine. The children were clean, well loved, and well cared for. My son and I were only permitted inside the upstairs part of the orphanage still run through American funding though we were guided to lunch through the Chinese section. The construction of open windows allowed us to view the children downstairs as well. It was a stark contrast to the upstairs in that nothing was painted brightly, there was nothing in the rooms at all except a table and chairs, and there were not nearly as many staff members tending children. Still the experience in no way screamed "tragic" like the depictions of horrific conditions of Russian orphanages my husband has visited.
But here's the tragedy- the "why" behind Chinese children entering an orphanage in the first place. The Chinese "one child per family" rule creates a system of doom for smallest most vulnerable. Children with any problems at all are sometimes dumped, because they have some imperfection. For example, a child might happen to have the misfortune of being a girl. Boys grow up to be parent's means to "social security", and a girl certainly could not be expected to provide for parents in old age. So Chinese orphanages house many more females than males, and generally only healthy girls are to be adopted from their country. Special need boy adoptions are the exception, not the rule. Children with a cleft palate or another medically treatable disease become orphans, because parents simply could never afford to pay for surgeries. Also, physical imperfections lead to second or third class citizenship just like they do here in the U.S., so parents look for a healthy and whole boy to secure their future and abandon the lesser. The worst poverty of all is the children who are aborted, because parents cannot afford the government fines imposed for second children.
My son, Peace, looks a little pale in these pictures. Though he'd been full of life and exuberance on our adventurous mission, the orphange drained the color straight from his face. I had to pry a bit to find out why. Peace was completely embarrassed to tell me he'd never been around children with so many handicaps- eyes missing, helmets for seizures, holes where there weren't supposed to be in faces, missing arms or fingers. He hated passing by the children in the Chinese section of the orphanage believing those children were terribly neglected. He felt particularly uneasy while we fed the babies with cleft palates a greenish yellow goo, and thick globs would push back through the holes in their lips. He'd never seen anything so startling before, and I hadn't thought to explain things to him. Once I shared my insights and that most everything could be medically fixed or least made better when the children were adopted, he became much more comfortable. These children were the children with great promise for a future. I failed to mention to Peace the unborn aborted babies, and abandoned babies not found until too late or not at all.
All China's children are the ones I fast for tonight and tommorrow.
One of the children we sponsor from Compassion International is a Chinese boy who lives in much more dire circumstances than we encountered at the orphanage.