Moments that make all the difference
I love beautiful people and kind gestures. So, I wrote a compilation of little moments that combined these two things, making my heart smile.
Visitors often come and distribute treats. Promise, a child of around four years was holding his biscuit and I asked him where mine was. He said, “take my own,” as he held his out to me. Of course I didn’t take it, but if I wanted to I could have had it. My previous student Louisa, who is now 13, always forces me to take one of her treats. Even when I refuse she shoves it into my pocket. All the children offer me their food when they are eating, and as soon as I take a bite of one person’s they all shout for me to eat with them.
The children were coloring in my room one day and one of them started talking about when I left two years ago. She explained that I arrived on a Sunday, left on a Friday, and nobody returned to school the day I left because they were all crying. It is amazing the things they remember. It also broke my heart a little.
Marie-Louise, another of my previous students cares for the older “babies” (4–6 years) with me. One of the six year olds pooped in the night the day after Christmas. Marie-Louise hid her, bathed her, and told every other child not to utter a word about it so that the child wouldn’t be beaten for it.
One of the children was touching my arm and calling it soft. One of the boys said, “No, she is not soft. She is strong! It’s because Auntie Heidi is fat.” He was clarifying that my arm felt soft because of fat, not because I lacked muscle. I think this was supposed to make me feel better.
Two of the boys of around 15 brought me papaya, I think to thank me for distributing money for Christmas gifts. I shared the papaya with them as well as Malta (a drink) and a typical Spanish Christmas cookie, polvorone. We talked about food from America and Spain and I said how in Spain they eat a lot of Pig. They asked if I liked pig and I said yes. The next day they returned to my place. They offered me a black bag and when I opened it I couldn’t figure out what was inside so I asked. They told me it was pig. They had brought me pig meat, in a form that I had never seen it in.
One of the six-year-old boys asked to sleep with me. I told him maybe, and then that night when I returned to my apartment there was a mattress resting outside my door. I couldn’t say no to that.
A six-year-old girl was picking at my hair and then said, “Auntie Heidi, where are your own black hairs. I am not seeing.” She thought I was wearing mesh, and that my hair was really like her own underneath.
The children (ages 11–13) were asking how old I was and I told them “89.” They somehow believed me and concluded, “whites are growing and looking young!”
I was walking into my house the night before Christmas and passed one of the Sisters speaking to a few of the older girls. They were discussing a pair of shoes and asked me to try them on. They got excited when they fit, so I asked who they were for. They said they were for me to thank me for everything I had done to make their Christmas great. I told them it wasn’t even my own funds I was using, but they insisted that it still couldn’t have happened without me. When here I feel like they do more for me than I do for them.
Every year on New Years a wealthy family gathers their rich friends and invites the orphanages around to perform and then eat at their home. During the performances I was given two beverages, one for myself and one for the child on my lap. Immediately two other children from GSH came, asking to also drink from the child’s can. We sent the can around in circles until one of the girls noticed a child from a different orphanage looking thirsty, so she included her in the cycle. When the can was almost finished, that other child stopped one of our own children from drinking and I thought it was because she wanted the final sip. But then she moved the can to the mouth of the baby on my lap, since it was his can to begin with.
I passed one of the younger boys shouting “stop,” at an older girl as she swung her arm to strike. I assumed he had done something to make her mad, but he then he said, “don’t beat him,” and I noticed the baby standing behind him.