Visit to an Orphanage
While Randy was in Thailand, I spent time with children at an orphanage in Busan. I’m so happy that I had the privilege of doing this because my mother was adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam during the war. It was great to see how an organization like this works. I’m sure it was much more different in Vietnam because of the war and the many, many children left with no parents. Orphanages in Korea exist for a different reason and I felt like this orphanage was filled with love and joy.
When we arrived, the children were a little hesitant to approach the 12 foreigners. But, after we took out the sidewalk chalk and started drawing, they became more and more comfortable. The kids’ ages range from two years to 17 years old. As more and more children came out of their rooms, they were sent off to spend time with other foreigner visitors to take a swimming lesson, dance class or play soccer with the boys. I, along with a few other friends, taught some children how to make the paper folding fortune teller. With only about two hours with the kids, we just played with them and showed them love as if we were kids again. So, the band nerd and gamer came out in me. Surprisingly, some kids have music lessons. Having not played the flute in seven years, one of the girls let me play her flute! But she wouldn’t tell me her name for the longest time. Some of the kids were pretty shy, but as long as you showed them that you cared, they would be more open. I also played chess with some boys.
The facilities and staff were really nice. They have a nice playground, kitchen and even library or game room. I could tell that the people really cared for the children and wanted the best for them. It was definitely a family operation, with the mother planting plants in the garden and her children helping her – I’m not sure if they were her biological children because all of the kids called her mother.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before I went, but it was a great experience that I would participate in again. The children look forward to having visitors even if it’s just for a couple of hours. And although the language barrier exists, they’re still playful and loving as any child.
But, discovering the true reason why some of the children are there is the sad part. In Korea, women and men are looked down upon if you have an illegitimate child or child out of wedlock. If this happens, one option is to put the child in an orphanage. In this society of Confucianism, saving face is very important and having an illegitimate child would definitely be shameful. I’m happy that I had the chance to spend time with children who otherwise might not have the opportunity to spend quality time with a loved one.