A Mixture of Feelings

A Mixture of Feelings

I have always been surprised about the combination of feelings you can experience because of the children of Nkoaranga Orphanage. Happiness when you see their smiling faces, sadness when they’re crying, annoyance when they’re being a bit too cheeky, overwhelming joy when you’re lucky enough to see them taking their first steps, and utterly, crazy, unconditional, never ending love. Always love, no matter what.
An incredible previous volunteer, Jasmine, has just returned from spending a month with the kids and I am unbelievably jealous of her. It feels so strange because I lived with Jasmine in Nkoaranga last year and have spent many hours with her, reminiscing about the wonderful times we had with the kids. When she returned, one of the first questions I asked her was, “Do they remember me?” The kids are always there, in the back of your mind, so you often wonder if they do actually remember you. And, I was so happy to hear, that they do in fact remember me and kept asking Jasmine where I was. It was so wonderful to know that they remember us, and still love us as we love them. But this wasn’t the only feeling I experienced on hearing this. It also made me feel sad. I feel guilty for not being there and knowing that they do actually still think about us from time to time. It made me think about something that the lovely Emma has touched on before now: whether coming into the children’s lives and then leaving does more harm than good.

But, then I thought about all of the wonderful times that we have had with the children.

pulling herself up on my legs. I thought about the times I had spent getting Simoni to run and jump and try to do anything we could to help his legs to improve. I thought about the night Megan and I sat singing to all of the children, whilst we fed the babies, because they were getting scared by the power cut. I thought about the first moment we all walked into the orphanage and the way the children immediately ran up to us and started hugging and climbing all over us. I thought about the hundreds of times I had told the children that I love them and they told me they love me too. I thought about when Nsima turned to me on her last day at the orphanage and said, “I will miss you, Emily”. I thought about Saimoni singing the ‘Embily song‘ and Stevie playing ‘wewe chakoula‘. I thought about the hundreds and thousands of beautiful, heart-wrenching, perfect memories I have of those beautiful children and all of the love that they have shown me and I have shown them.

If we hadn’t gone to the orphanage, then we wouldn’t have been able to hug them when they were crying. Make them laugh when they were feeling sad. Protect them when they were scared. Play with them when they were feeling lonely. We wouldn’t have been able to show them the love that they deserve; the love that the Mama’s, the children and the volunteers are always showing one another, every single day.

Gracie’s first attempts to stand

Simple fun with Baracka, Neema and Eman.