Last night I watched 60 minutes and their segment on “The Lost Children of Haiti.” According to the program, about half a million children in Haiti became orphans as a result of the earthquake in January. Around 50,000 Haitian children are missing and over 5,000 schools were destroyed.
I was in Ghana when the earthquake in Haiti struck. And watching this program about Haitian children, reminded me of the orphans in Ghana. One of the Haitian girls living in an orphanage was raped and enslaved (she was given away by her own family) before the earthquake. When the earthquake struck, she was sent to an orphanage. Her story reminded me of Madjuwa, who was also sold into slavery by her family and brought to the Agbozume orphanage after she ran away.
She was an amazing girl and she was about eleven years old (she didn’t know her exact age). She settled into life at the orphanage with remarkable ease. She became good friends with Delight (another orphan) and ending up sharing a bed with an older girl.
She spoke very little English and had no formal education, but I feel that I bonded with her fairly well. I started noticing that she wasn't adjusting as well as I previously thought. I was the “morning caretaker” and observed/helped the orphans before school. I had to buy Madjuwa a toothbrush because she didn’t have one (fortunately one of the volunteers brought a lot of clothes that she could wear) and I realized she skipping school. She was placed in the Kindergarten, which she was clearly embarrassed about. I knew there wasn’t much I could do because she didn’t understand me very well and none of the other adults around seemed to really care.
She could also be mean to Peace (but then again everyone was mean to Peace because she was the youngest). And for some reason she loved to hide from me. I’d see her peeking at me from a corner and I’d wave or call her name and she would hide. But despite that, I knew she liked me because she’d often come to the compound where I lived and just quietly sit by me.
One of my favorite memories of Ghana was one day when it was raining and three of the girls (Madjuwa, Delight, and Peace) hid in my room. We all climbed on my bed and listened to the rain beat loudly on the roof. I felt so much love toward those girls, as if they were my own children.