The Signs of Freedom
What does freedom look like for a child who has never before had the luxury of such a thing?
I was caught by surprise with what this looks like on my recent trip to Benin. At the orphanage, safe home that we founded, where I also stay when on my visits, I love being able to hang out with the children in their dorms as they prepare to go to bed in the evenings. They are always asking me to share bedtime stories that consist of real life experiences. Similarly, my oldest granddaughter Aubrie, age seven in America, also loves real life bedtime stories and reacts with the same excitement and intense concentration as our children in Africa with these sharing times. I can never tell enough stories for them to be satisfied. They always coax me with the phrase, “Please, just tell one more.” These are priceless times – hanging out with kids who have walked through incredible trauma and abuse in their lives, yet are now experiencing what every child should experience.
One evening, after saying goodnight, I walked out of the girls’ dorm and saw some rustling on the side patio, in the pitch dark of the night. I turned on my flashlight to discover a handful of little girls on their grass mats, next to their freshly picked mangos just spending time together before they had to go inside to bed. They were lying on their mats chatting away with each other, laughing and having a sweet time, as most carefree children would do. It was a beautiful thing to witness, since I know each of their stories, and know this truly is a miraculous time in their lives.
As I walked away, I thought, “This is what FREEDOM looks like”. In the pitch black of the night, they have no fear of anything because they are free and protected in this safe home with wonderful, loving caretakers and precious friends all around them. To each of you who help facilitate this kind of freedom for each child on our program, THANK YOU! Together we are making this beauty happen.