As a teacher the first rule you ingrain in your mind is; no favourites. When you’re both living and working in an orphanage however, trying to put what you would consider an appropriate emotional distance between you and the kids is difficult. At the end of the day, they don’t have mum and dad to go home to. Their whole life is within that orphanage and so is yours during that time.
For me my golden rule was seriously broken by one cheeky little monkey, Jared. This little one managed to take down all my walls and barriers and worked his way right there into my very core. And going home means leaving him. I’ve contemplated on and off going to visit him one more time before I fly out, but realise this would be so much more for myself than him. When I came back to the orphanage after having been away in New Zealand for Christmas his reaction was the hardest. Most of the other little ones ran up and gave me a big cuddle. Jared was last to approach and just stood there looking up at me. I gently picked him up and he just looked blankly at me for a few moments before bursting into tears. He wouldn’t let anyone else near me for over a week.
It’s hard to understand someone is gone if they come back again so quickly, and for him to settle and feel secure it’s better I not go back. I had it all planned in my head, how I would introduce a distance between he and I over the year to give him time to adjust to me going. But due to unforseen circumstances, I’m gone, just like that. As I went to say goodbye to him, tucked into his bed, he put his little hands on my face and told me ‘Aunty Salah, I like you.’ I of course burst into tears and told him ‘I love you, ok?’ and he gave me a little nod and a ‘yes’. I was, am, and possible forever will be, distraught to be leaving my little monkey.
This post is for him. I love you my cheeky monkey. I’ll be sending you presents and thinking of you everyday.