Sunday, September 23, 2007

Missing Them-- A Volunteer's Perspective

One of the difficult things about being a volunteer is that, eventually, you have to come home.

It's been over two years since I've returned from my 4 months in Ghana. My life has gone on; I've graduated from college, gotten married, and have a steady job. My life is good, and I love it. And yet, the part of my heart that will always belong to my children still beats a little more painfully than the rest. Some days, it's so painful that the rest of my heart feels it too.

My husband came home from work one day to find me sitting quietly on the couch. For some reason, that day was a missing day. I can never tell when those days will come, or why, but they do come. He sat down and asked me if something was wrong, and I began to cry. He thought something had happened until I explained why I was crying. I missed them. I missed them so much that it felt like my heart was seizing.

Strangely, I even miss the ones I never knew, I think just for the fact that I never knew them. I receive pictures from other volunteers who have recently returned, and I don't recognize many of the New Life crew anymore. The ones I do recognize have changed. Adjoa has gotten so tall. Benjie is speaking English like a pro. They are growing and changing, and I miss being there for that.

As a volunteer, you give and serve and sacrifice for the children until you have given them everything that is in you. In return, they give you their love. You feel like they have become yours, like you are the mother of 50-odd children. And you know that dozens of other volunteers feel the same way, and that really, you were only there for so short a time and sometimes feel like you've done so little. Yet you still miss them; the mother you've become regardless of how many others came or how little time you spent cries out to hold your children.

Sometimes you get letters that tell you they still remember you, that they still sing the songs you taught, and you are happy. And it only makes you miss them more. I would never give up the feeling of missing them. If I didn't miss them, it means I didn't love them, and if I never loved them, my heart would never know what that love feels like. And that thought hurts more than missing them ever could.
Comfort, Small Elizabeth (Adjoa), Shallee, and Elizabeth

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