By: Angela Quinn
LES CAYES, HAITI – The alarms sounded at 7am in my bunkroom. Most of us had already been awakened by the howling wind outside. No coffee from Starbucks to jumpstart my brain. Just a wet wipe rubbed across my face and a quick change of clothes. I grabbed my camera and prepared to take my first shots of the orphanage in daylight. When I stepped outside of the guesthouse a few volunteers were milling around. My viewfinder became filled with beautiful mountains lush with vegetation sloping down to the Caribbean Sea. Within minutes the orphans started climbing the hill to scope out their American visitors.
What took place next was astounding to me. The children approached us sheepishly at first and then began to “choose” their Americans. This process happened rather quickly. They would hold your hand, crawl up into your lap if you were sitting down, or reach for you to pick them up if you were standing.
The boy who chose me spoke enough English to ask my name and age and then let me know he was Noel and he was eleven. He never left my side that morning. If I went inside the guesthouse where the orphans were not allowed, he would wait for me outside. If another group of orphans approached me, he would let them know that I was “his.”
We thought the bonding process with the children would be intentional on our part. We would get to know them over the course of the week and build a relationship with a particular child. Surprisingly, instead of us doing the choosing, we quickly found that we were the ones being chosen.