Me holding little "Dima" (and yes the smock with pink hearts was the only one they had for me to wear.)
On my birthday yesterday, Edna and I went along with her friend Marianna and a girl named Dani to a children's hospital in Kyiv. We went there to spend time with AIDS orphans who otherwise wouldn't have any visitors. They are sectioned off in their own little room where they have little opportunity for human contact. The only exception is a Catholic nun who spends a few days a week caring for these forgotten children. We could tell that she really loves them by the way that she lovingly handled them.
Edna and Marianna try to visit the children every Friday, but this was my first time. As we talked and played with these children, I couldn't help but think of how these little lives had simply been discarded by their parents. On top of being orphans, they had also been dealt a death sentence of having HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, society here views them as not only cast offs, but as cast offs to be feared and avoided. A recent BBC survey found that about 13% of Ukrainians believe the virus can be transmitted merely by touching someone who is already a carrier. I noticed that when hospital staff came in the room, they wouldn't even approach the children without first donning latex gloves.
Edna taking a turn with Dima.
I was privileged to be able to spend my afternoon with the three children who are currently tucked away in a little room in the hospital we visited. To protect their privacy I won't show their faces or give their real names, but I will tell you that their faces were just as bright and happy as any other of God's children. There was a little five month old boy, who we'll call Dima, that looked so perfect in every way, yet had been abandoned. We all took turns holding him and showing him the love he has so rarely gotten.
At first the two little girls, who we'll call Ira and Alina, were quiet and very shy. Four year old Ira would look at us and giggle, but she stayed very close to the nun who serves as her primary care giver while she is in the hospital. It was only towards the end of of our visit that she suddenly jumped into the arms of Dani and didn't want to let go. She was all smiles from that point on.
Ira and Alina playing a game of Memory with Dani and the Catholic nun.
Five year old Alina was another story. She was shy at first, but once I told her there was a spider on her neck, she began laughing and assuring me that she knew it was just me tickling her. Soon after, we began tossing around a blue bouncy ball that caused her to literally erupt in laughter. Gone was the shy little girl quietly sitting with her face turned down. Alina began to openly mock our Ukrainian and laugh all the louder at our funny accents. If that wasn't bad enough, she even began to mock our English. She would throw the ball to us and mockingly say "Wow!" or "OK!" when we would catch it. This caused her to laugh even harder.
It wasn't long before we drew the attention of several hospital staff and patients who stopped outside the window to see what all the fun was about. Along with bringing some light into these little children's lives, I hope we broke down some barriers with adults along the way. These children may seem insignificant to some, even burdensome, but their lives still have value. Yes they have been born into a world where they will suffer and die, but God has a purpose for them. The life He creates has purpose and value and I pray that more people here will see that. Please keep these little ones in your thoughts and prayers as people like Marianna continue to labor on their behalf.
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. -Matthew 18:10