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Life at the Orphanage

As a child, what kind of home did you have? Did you grow up with both parents? Did you go to school and have lots of friends and classmates. Did you think of yourself as lucky? Blessed? What if you were, indeed, blessed to have all these as a child?

For one moment, imagine that you had none of these. Imagine that you were forced to run away at a very young age, or that your mother died at birth. In your mind’s eye, what do you see? Where do you see yourself? Do you like it? Are you happy? Put yourself in these shoes for one moment, what do you see…

“Before I came here, I was in Mudeka…with my elder brother and his wife”,

Eyes fall on the floor, hands together-almost in prayer. She is soft spoken and nonagitated. With a purple gown and short kempt hair.

“My brother’s wife…she was always disturbing me whenever I would go to school and come back. Life was very, very uncomfortable there. Especially when I was in Class Six. My friend and I, we used to have evening classes and then, we’d come late at night because of the classes. My brother’s wife would then say very mean things to me, shouting all the time. She would say that I had just returned from visiting my boyfriend. And I was in class six. Ever since I came here, no one has ever said things like that to me. No one has ever said I was going to visit my boyfriend. No one.”

From Sophie‟s calm demeanor, you would never imagine what she has gone through before becoming part of the home. (INSERT HOW SHE LOST HER MOTHER) You would never know that August, 2015 would mark her second year here or that, her father‟s death sent her into a spiral that took motherly trickery from a family friend to save her from mental and emotional trauma.

She doesn‟t talk much. According to the caregivers, she is usually by herself. Even in school. But she is always ready to answer any question when spoken to directly. You can see the sorrow she has been through. You can almost taste her pain and how much she has come to see the world differently.

“This third term, I was number 14. I need to work harder,” she says, “I want to become a medical Doctor” When asked why, she smiles uneasily.

If you watch Manka (INSERT AGE) and Adeline (INSERT AGE) play in the yard, you would never guess that (INSERT HOW THEY LOST THEY FAMILIES).

They keep jumping into the office to play with Katy Fritz, the (INSERT POSTION).

“Sometimes, you just have to play with them before they leave, there is no way around it,” Katy whispers as she motions them out of the office.

Because it is the holidays, many of the children have gone to visit their biological families. But not the babies.

For Roseline and Rosemary, this is home. Their mother died two days after putting to birth and the pair of six months old babies has battled prematurity, sent the whole house into panic for more than one Sunday and still bring joy to anyone who carries them around. They are the quintessence of the term “bundle of joy”.

“The promoter [grandma] had to take care of their feeding herself,” Julius the (CORRECT POSITION) administrative assistant explained. “The hospital said that because of their underdeveloped digestion, they had to be fed differently”.

After Roseline and Rosemary were born, they had to be put in the incubator for a week before bringing them home. Even after that, they often needed to be taken into intensive care. One day, grandma even thought they‟d lost Roseline.

“It was a Sunday and there was no one on call at the time. But by the Lord’s grace, we were able to get her to the hospital by ourselves. Rebecca was in pains because of her leg. As well as George (VERIFY), but I could see it in their faces that they really wanted to be able to take care of their sister. We struggled, got to the hospital and she was taken care of. When you ask for my most precious moments here, that is one of the many miracles SAGDILHOM has made me experience.”– Mama Ngatchou Rose a.k.a Grandma.

George has lived in the home for (INSERT NUMBER OF YEARS). He plays fondly with Roseline as he talks about his experience. He‟d just returned from helping out in the market and he seemed really pleased with himself.

“My plate number is “One” because I am have stayed the oldest in the home.”

He lets Roseline sleep on the chair and continues the discussion. Sophie listens quietly, intently as George chatters along about life in the home, the others who have gone to their biological families and how he has never left the home. He‟s ecstatic.

Rebecca emerges from the girls‟ room. She has an injured hip, walks with a limp. George teases her about something and they fight kindly, only the way a brother and a sister can fight. The fun didn‟t last long, though. Rebecca goes outside to meet the other children and George returns to making Rosline smile.

He carries himself like the first born of the house. Always ready to respond to an errand or play with a chaotic Manka. Or babysitting Roseline.

I have been here since Class 6 (VERIFY)”, he says without looking up.“And I‟ll be writing the GCE next year (VERIFY). I love it here. They don‟t just treat us like orphans, this is our home… my home. They take care of us, they advise us and they care about how we are doing.”

“I’d like to be a medical doctor when I grow up,” he adds fondling the baby.

Josef (INSERT AGE) allowed himself to be carried easily. He made goofy faces with the group when pictures were taken. He‟s a quiet one, Josef. One would not say the same for Manka, and Adeline who always seem to be full of energy.

Manka will always go the infant section where (INSERT NAMES OF OTHER TWIN BOYS) Roseline, Rosemary and Edmund lived with their „mothers‟. The babies were always being monitored, fed properly and taken care of by a dedicated crew.

“This week, I will be the one to lead the prayers. It is an important part of our life here. I lead every day from 8pm. For one week. Right here in this hall”.

Sophie continues to talk about the typical day in the home. About school in the Diligent High School Fiango (Diligent Bilingual Academy -DBA), about how she hardly played handball anymore and preferred to read her books quietly or discuss with her classmates.

“My favorite subject?” without a beat, she responded: “Physics”.

In her two years of living in the home, she has made quite a few friends. The caregivers all like her. She‟s not treated differently though, but they seem to enjoy her company. Especially given her story and how she came to be in the home. In all this, her most precious memory remains her baptism.

“It was the 15 August (VERIFY), a few days after I had come here thanks to my mother’s friend. There was so much joy around. After the baptism and first Holy Communion, there was Food, and drinks and smiles”

She stopped and smiled, revisiting the memory. She was quiet for a moment.

“I was really, really happy that someone could do something like that for me. Someone who wasn’t even my mother”

Sophie thought hard about where she saw herself in 10 years. She mentioned the fact that grandma‟s son had inspired her to want to become a medical doctor. She also had to be convinced, gently, to speak her mind. With her characteristic head perched to the ground, avoiding eye contact, she said:

“I see myself in a big car, in 10 years. Helping people. Just like grandma helped me. And if I am a medical doctor like grandma’s son I can even help them better”.

Now, what do you see when you imagine being with Sophie? What do you think she has gone through? Do you feel blessed? Do you feel like you have more than you deserve?

What would you do, if you could meet them?[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]