A group of Austrians who donated money to the orphanage came to visit today.
We prepared for hours before their arrival. Changing clothes, brushing teeth and hair, mopping floors, and making beds. They walked in the door with their designer handbags and top of the line cameras and within a few minutes had picked up the kids and snapped a couple pictures posing with their shiny engraved plaque. They were given the tour of the house and then they left. All of them in one car. All of their luggage in another. They didn´t stay for more than 15 minutes.
I´m sure they gave a lot of money and I know that everyone under this roof is incredibly grateful. Without their donation Alalay would still be in a small cramped house and the girls deserve better than that. But their trip was about making themselves feel good. It wasn´t about the kids. After they left the kids quickly changed back into their play clothes and moved on with their lives. Just another picture with a rich white guy.
The donors didn´t know any of the kid´s names. Any of their stories. They didn´t even share a meal or a cup of tea with the kids. The kids became a commodity bought with the charity money of a very rich man.
That man has his name permanently attached to the side of the house. It will remain there long after the girls have grown old and moved into new houses and new lives. Yet, those who live here, those who have spent their childhood coloring and cooking and bathing and sleeping between these walls will never have their names etched on a plaque. Eventually they will all leave but his name will remain. It makes me sad. This is their home, not his.