orphans in Da Nang orphanage, Vietnam

Da Nang orphanage, Vietnam

A month ago I found out about an orphanage 5 kms from my apartment and finally got to visit it today. 21 babies and toddlers, half with physical mental disabilities, each in their own crib, and 3 mothers taking care of them. It was dinner time. The mothers had just finished cooking a giant pot of congee and started to feed them one after another. I came by myself, without any gifts, just wanted to spend some time with them. They were so excited, calling out to me, jumping up and down, touching my shirt, my anklet, my pants’ buttons. It broke my heart. They’re in the most critical developmental years and need so much attention and stimulation, care and love. They need to be held, cuddled, caressed, kissed. They need to be talked and sung to. They need to be brought outside and shown the world.

I don’t know what’s worse. Kids with disabilities that can’t even move their limbs to fend off flies, but at least they aren’t aware of their conditions. Or the kids that in a few years will start school and realize that they’re orphans and different from most of their classmates.

I was once a frustrated 19 years old. I couldn’t get why people didn’t care about the same thing that I did. I’m a lot more mellow now, more understanding and accepting. Everyone has their own priorities and interests. The diversity makes the world spin around. It’s good enough as long as they don’t harm others intentionally. But in moments like this, I still find myself bitter. There’s so much suffering. How could you not care?