The following post was written by Laura Callahan, one of our ACT Mission Trip members who recently returned from an orphanage trip in China. You can join one of our many mission trips in 2015 to China, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Haiti! Visit our Mission Trips page for details.
"Even in an orphanage that has a lot of children with medical needs, the true human bell curve is evident. There are the leaders, the followers, the cute engaging favorites and the shy reluctant loners. They are children with cleft lips (repaired and not), heart defects, muscular difficulties, and Hep B to name a few.
The Chinese people may call them “special needs” but they are children first and foremost. They are living in a communal setting on the other side of the world, yet they present like children everywhere. Boys who stash candy and then pass out to the others when nannies aren’t looking. Cute adorable moppets who are obviously the favorite of all the teachers. Teenagers who will giggle and wonder who the strangers are as they head off to school. Others who hold back, are cautious and make you work for every smile that you try to entice. Some negotiate food trades when teachers are not looking, others quick to look out for the little ones and let you know when something is not right. And then there are those whose faces light up because someone finally noticed them and took the time to reach for the hands that wish to be grasped if only for a few hours.
I could be talking about children in New Jersey or Nebraska, but instead I reflect on the many faces of children in orphanages throughout China. Having been to China 4 times and visited 3 different orphanages, I marvel that each time I go I see fewer and fewer differences between children here in the US and there in China. In many ways they are the same, just wanting to be noticed, loved and cared for and accepted for who they are. Some will be exceptional, some will always have difficulties, and most will fall in the middle and be happy to be there. The human bell curve, nature’s way."
by Laura S. Callahan
MA Clinical Psychology, Ed.S, Counseling Psychology, LPC