July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last week I said my goodbyes at the orphanage. It was… well, it was. Everybody cried and clung to me and asked me to stay and when I would be back. Even the matrons that work there, old ladies, cried and asked me not to leave. The reaction from the matrons surprised me, not because we didn’t get close – we got quite close – but because I didn’t know they cared that much. It touched me very deeply to know that they felt that way.
When I was saying my goodbyes the children and matrons kept asking me when I was coming back. It just wasn’t possible for me to say, “I’m not.” Instead, I told them I would try to return next year or as soon as I can get the money together. Even though they would prefer I never left, this seemed to be an acceptable alternative. After giving it much thought, it just felt too wrong to me to spend such a significant amount of time allowing these children to get so attached to me to just up and abandon and vanish. I know they would recover, but I want to be a tally in the positive column of their lives, not the disappointment column. Whether or not they know it, I’ve become emotionally committed to these children and will do everything in my ability to be a positive influence in their lives, even if it’s just financial support and occasional visits. Either way, I promised to come back and I keep my promises, so I’ll be back.
Since I left, we’ve spoken on the phone a few times. My Italian husband, Giorgio, lets them use his phone to call me and I appreciate it so much. Last night I answered the phone and heard Raymondi’s voice and was so happy I promptly teared up. Raymondi is 20 but lives at the orphanage and is still in high school. Due to financial struggles being such a common thing, it’s not unusual for people here to be even 24 before graduating. They have to stop and start and are only able to go when they can afford it. Raymondi lost his father last year and the sadness is still settled around his shoulders like a cloak. You can see it plainly in his face, even when he smiles. He’s also very shy and him calling me to tell me he missed me is pretty amazing. Of all the people I said goodbye to, saying goodbye to Raymondi and seeing him cry and try not to was the hardest. It’s making my eyes water just thinking about it.
So, now I’m in Zanzibar. Nabeel and Leila, of Peak 4 Poverty fame, got married. The wedding was really fun and there are a couple posts on the way dedicated to the island, but right now I have to go snorkeling. I rented a private boat for the day for $20. The driver (captain?) is taking me to another, smaller island where there’s beautiful reef to snorkel and giant tortoises to ogle.
Here’s to salt water and tan lines!