A Korean Orphanage Visit

This past weekend, Johnnie and I went with a group of people from the base to volunteer at an orphanage simply to spend time interacting with the children.  We met with a group of older kids, mostly middle and high school aged with a couple young boys mixed in.  We spent time inside playing cards and board games, and we also spent time outside playing soccer and frisbee.  The children all seemed excited to have us visit and we really enjoyed our afternoon spent with them!

I was surprised to learn that not all of the children living at the orphanage are really orphans.  Many of them actually have living parents and relatives but are placed in the orphanage because their family can't afford or are unable to take care of them.  Others are there because they would bring "shame" to the family because of being born out of wedlock or having a disability or handicap.  Some children were abandoned completely while others get to see their families on special occasions.  There are some children who truly are orphans with no living family.

I found an interesting article titled "Korea + Adoption = Shame?" that was just written this past May.  According to the article, it costs nothing for a Korean couple to adopt a Korean orphan but few actually do it.  Koreans have such great pride in family lineage that it's out of the question for many to adopt a child from a different blood line.  Some of these kids have lived or will live their entire childhood in an orphanage.  I can't help but wonder what will become of them when they become too old to stay there and are sent out into the world.  Chances are they won't attend college and will work as laborers, struggling to find their place in a culture that views them as outcasts.  They have so much potential, it's a shame that they don't all have someone to help them realize it.

The younger children had fun passing around somebody's red camera.  Oh how I would love to see the pictures that these little ones made!  Next time I'll take an extra camera with me ;)

"While we try to teach children all about life,
children teach us what life is all about."
~Angela Schwindt

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