Innocence is a treasure that God gives children. It is something we experience as children before we can even appreciate its value. Innocence is the veil between childhood and adulthood. Innocence is the cocoon that allows children to develop properly without being stained by the world. Innocence is the essence of childhood.
As parents we work hard to protect the innocence of our children as long as possible. We do our best to provide a safe and secure home where our children can feel protected. We ensure they have daily needs addressed, such as food, shelter, clothing, and education so they can focus on learning and discovering life. We provide love, affection and interaction through which they find self worth and value. We bring discipline and direction to ensure personal standards and direction are planted within their hearts. We help them unlock the mystery of God and intimately connect with the loving Savior Jesus Christ. This is parenthood.
What happens when children are thrust into life where they have no protection, where they must make decisions as adults, where they are ultimately responsible for their survival? Some children learn to survive, but they never develop. These children physically grow into adults, but they are broken replicas of what they might have been. Another life is lost.
I reflected on these children as we rode through Yangon in our taxi on newly paved six lane roads full of traffic. I could see them out my window, just a few feet away, barely tall enough to get their head above our car door. Yet they stood on the dotted white lines as cars and trucks lumbered by. They stood there, holding their items, hoping someone may stop and buy just one apple, or maybe a postcard.
It was difficult to comprehend the level of fear and desperation each child was experiencing day after day. Where was their food coming from? Who provided their clothes? And where would they sleep that night? The questions were endless.
The exploitation of children creates a cycle of poverty that cannot be broken until children have an opportunity to develop into healthy adults and to accept the responsibility of raising the children of the next generation after them. A society must first produce an environment where children can grow into healthy adults before they can create a healthy environment to raise their future children.
All of the children we have accepted into the World Compassion orphanage have had a portion of their innocence stolen. They have experienced tragic events. But as an organization, we are working hard to raise these children. To restore what has been stolen and invest in them with the hope they will recreate Burma in the next generation.
All of the things I discussed above, about good parenting, are the intrinsic ingredients that make up the World Compassion orphan care program. We are not just providing food and education, shelter and clothing. We are providing an environment where children can grow and flourish into thriving adults.
As our taxi ride ended, and we arrived at the orphanage, we were greeted by happy children who were full of life. I gazed into their eyes and saw what I was looking for, the restoration of innocence.