Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The shabby green door

Last night I listened to a talk by Dave Gotts, who is the director of International China Concern, an organization who works with abandoned babies, children, and young people in China. It left me rather overwhelmed.

There are over one million children abandonned in China every year. Eighty percent of them die.

Dave decribed the scene at a particular orphanage in China... One worker caring for fourty children, many of whom had some sort of mental or physical disability, or both. Four or five children sharing one wooden cot to sleep on. Children going wild when the meager meal was brought in, swarming the servers, stuffing the food into their mouths as fast as they could for fear another child would steal it from their hands and crawling along the filthy floor picking up any leftover grain of rice they could find; anything that they could put in their mouths. Bones that had been chewed clean and tossed on the floor would be picked up by someone else, sucked clean and tossed away once more, only to be picked up by another child, then another, then another. The light of hope extinguished from a child's eyes because they knew that they were most likely going to die. All humanity had gone from that place.

Then there was the shabby green padlocked door. This is where kids go when there are too many children in the orphanage. It's off in a corner beside a noisy water system, which would drown out the sound of a child crying or pleading for food. Eventually, the child stops crying, stops pleading, and quietly starves to death.

What kind of world lets children die cold and alone padlocked behind a door. What kind of world leaves a child on the street to die just because it's a girl and not a boy? Things like this happen all over the world. Extreme povery and suffering in India, in Africa. Even right here in my own neighbourhood. A homeless man died on Sunday morning on Hastings Street. He froze to death. What kind of world are we living in???

I cannot shake the image of that door. I don't think I want to. It's so easy to hear a story like that and feel so far removed from it. It's overwheming. It's so far away. What could I possibly do? But I don't want to just slough it off, letting it bring a tear to my eye and then carrying on with my life as if it never happened. I want it to affect me, to motivate me to action, but I'm scared of what that means, and don't even know where to start.


SlushTurtle said...

What REALLY upsets me is that there are tons of people ready to welcome those children into their homes, but they can't because they don't have the $15,000 to do so. So they just let them starve. I simply don't understand this world we live in.

RagDoll said...

I agree with slushturtle. I will never ever look at a green painted door without being reminded of your post.

3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

A heartwrenching post Hillary. Completely appropriate for this time of year, where excess seems to run rampant.

Came via Wendy.


LadyBeth said...

Wow! I'm so glad I was at "Wendys" today.

Someone from Vancouver! I had a vacation, I mean a real vacation, all by myself. Guess where I went!

Nanaimo,Vancouver Island. It was wonderful. So nice and calming. I went at christmas time, so I did not get to see the palms unveiled.

I've heard about the ordeal in China with the children. It is horrid. China has so aleinated itself from the rest of the world. Almost like they don't want us to know their problems, yet, we do. I don't know what the answer is. Prayer. Maybe God can reach where man isn't allowed to tread.

Hillary said...

Lady Beth - I absolutely believe the God can and DOES reach these places. You put it so eloquently!

The second half of the talk was about how God IS bringing hope through people. Some may say that God is an impersonal God, watching us "from a distance" as the song says. But Christmas is about God seeing a world so broken that he couldn't stay away. It's all about a God who draws near and comes to us to offer hope. Dave challenged us to continue to bring God's hope to people, whether that be right where we are, in China, or elsewhere.

I was quite a good talk, and didn't end on such a negative note, but I wnated to focus on that for a little bit so as not to so easily forget.

Roni said...

Yes, it is so easy to 'slough it off' as you. Our own personal pain is often nothing when compared to the lives of others.
Very good reminder and a further call to pray outside our own little circle.

Amie said...

Very sobering. It is a shame that, like the first poster stated, it's essentially $$ that is keeping these babies out of homes. I would take a couple of them in a heartbeat.

jen said...

That's so traumatic... International work - we're so cozy here in Canada but there's so much pain out in the world. Then again, if we look closer right in our own country, we'd see a lot of stuff that is just as bad.

oh, "Wendy Directed me here"

KC said...

You sure he's not merging several nuggets of truth to make a stronger, sadder, story? It sounds too awful to be true.

Hillary said...

I wish he were. That kind of thing is all too common in places like China. It's heartbreaking.