The picture that my brother found turned out to be my a drawing my little sister did. She was 6 at the time. I thought it might be hers when I first saw it. So no premonitions by my brother. Too bad, I was just about to ask him if the Sox would win the world series again. 🙂
“Roberto, levanate” my father says as he nudges me awake.
Its 5:30 in the morning and its still dark out. My flight home leaves in a few hours so I have to wake up and get ready. Sleepily I rub my eyes, yawn and head towards the kitchen. I’m greeted by Gerardo and his wife who promptly start asking me about breakfast. Being so early and my due to the little Spanish I know, all I can do is stair blankly. Picking up on this they try again.
“Cerial?” Gerardo questions. I nod. “Pan…bread?”
“Si” say while fighting back another yawn.
Time to get ready. I showered and pack up and drag my bags out to the car. The sun is up now and the air is still cool but it’s getting warmer.
Its about a 30 minuet drive to the airport so I take out my CD player. I’m always listening to music whenever I travel. This time its The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life after death album. As we drive a long I start to think about camp and how I will be there in two days. “You must be crazy” I think to my self. I’m traveling over 3,000 miles in 4 days. Yesterday morning I was in panama and spent the day in a buss on there way to Costa Rica. Later today I will be back in Boston. Tomorrow I will be packing for camp and Sunday Will be my first day as a Counselor In Training.
Maybe I shouldn’t have missed the week of staff training…oh well nothing I can do now. What could possibly go wrong anyway?
We’re here. I jump out of the van and look around…no Eva yet. We unload my luggage and find a place to sit. It is a beautiful day. The warm air is intoxicating and makes me not want to leave. But then I remember its summer back home too and we’ll probably have more weather like this.
Just then a car pulls up. Its Eva! not a moment too soon either, because its almost time to check in. We all hug and Roy starts chatting away with my dad and Gerardo.
Out of the corner of my eye, I glance at my sister timidly. She must have seen me because she takes my hand and places it on her stomach. She smiles and says something in the best Spanglish she can muster. I’m not really listening, all I can think of how weird this pregnancy thing is. My sister is the first person I can remember that’s been pregnant. She is due any day now and her stomach is huge. I move my hand long her brown dress. No kicks, I’m a little disappointed.
I pull my hand back and look up at her. She smiles knowingly. I smile back thinking how grown up and mature she looks. There is something about her, something familiar in those eyes.
Its time to go now. We kiss, hug and say goodbye. I want to tell her something but I don’t know what. Its like the words are there, on the tip of my tongue but I don’t know how to say them. So I just stood there, looking at her. Someone I want to know but can’t. It wouldn’t be until three years later that I would realize what I saw that day.
My older brother Ernesto sent me this picture yesterday. Its a drawing he did when he was in elementary school. Whats interesting that it was in an envelope that had Roberto written on the front.
We both think it is a picture of us meeting for the first time. The girl and boy at the top of the picture are him and Eva. The little bot coming down the steps of the airplane is probably me and holding my hand is my mother Ana. Next to her could be Mama Chila and Luis.
Whats really weird is that this isn’t far off from what actually happened. So I wonder is it just a coincidence or a premonition…
While I was writing my post about the orphanage I started to wondering if I could find the orphanage online anywhere.
Maybe someone working there would remember me and could tell me a little bit more about what I was like there. We know that I had to be fed first and that I really liked coke but not much else. Maybe they would have a funny story or something about me.
I did a quick google search and I found a news letter from 2003 from an orphanage with the same name but in a different location in Honduras. At the bottom was an email address of someone who I assumed worked there. I sent them an email asking if they did in fact work there or knew of anyone who was working there.
I got a response back earlier this week from a man who no longer worked there but was able to provide me with the email address of someone who does. I asked this person if they knew anyone who might have worked there during the same time period I was there. She said she did and was glad to help.
This morning I sent her an email that she could forward asking if anyone remembered me. I haven’t herd back yet but I’ll be interested to see if anyone responds.
When the gunfire stops a women lays dead face down in the door way. Two men have been shot as well. They lie slumped over rifles by there side. As the police go through the house I’m found crying in my crib. Next to me are two other girls. Social services is called in to deal with us. As I’m being as taken away a news paper photographer stops us to take a picture. One police officer is holding me while the male officer next her tries to get me to smile. It works. My face lights up in a happy little smile completely unaware of what has just happened and what is to come.
I’m taken to a private orphanage in Tegucigalpa Honduras. This will be my home for the next year. I will spend most of my days in a my crib straiting out of the window on the third floor of this clay building. I won’t learn how to walk or speak very well. I won’t eat very well either. But I will be fed.
During this time a notice is put into the paper asking anyone who might be missing a child to come forward and claim me. No one does, so six months after I arrive I am legally put up for adoption. I will wait another six month before I meet my parents.
It’s May 1980 and I have just turned two. My adoptive parents arrived in the country a few weeks earlier. Today we will meet for the first time.
My soon to be dad wakes up early and staring making coffee. My soon to be mom lays in bed a few more minuets for before joining him. They are tired from a long night of nervous sleep.
“What do you think he will looks like?”
“We will know very soon.” My mother replies.
They shower and dress quick anticipating what is to come.
My dad paces nervously waiting for the social worker to arrive. “Why do you think they wouldn’t let any picture be taken of him? Do you think might be something wrong with him that they don’t want us to know about?”
“I don’t know hunny we will see soon enough.”
“Where are they? They should have been here by now.” my dad says anxiously
“They will come try to relax” my mom replies trying to hide her own anxiety.
“I’m going to call to make sure” My dad hurries off to make the call. He return shortly. “She’s not home.” He reports disappointedly
Then the door bell rings. Finally the social worker has come to take them to the orphanage.
As they arrive they are greeted by one of the staff members. Not wasting any time my dad asks. “What is he like?”
“Hes a sweet little boy but he will cry and cry if he is not fed first.” She answers shaking her head
“Oh?” my mom inquires.
“Don’t worry hes really nice” she replies quickly “but he doesn’t talk much. He only knows how to say agua. That means water and he says it when hes hungry or when he needs anything else.”
As they walk through the rooms filled with cribs, some of the children poke their heads up to see the visitors.
“I wonder if we could adopt more than one.” My dad wonders aloud.
“Here we are.” The staff member stops at the last crib on the third floor. “Oh and one more thing…” she says as a smile crosses her face “he really loves Coke.”
This is the moment my had parents been waiting for. As they approach the crib they see me lying down in a cloth diaper and an old t-shirt. I look up with a blank expression on my face not knowing what to expect.
My mom hands me a Paddington bear with a blue raincoat and red hat. I play with it curiously. Its the first stuffed animal I’ve ever had. They pick me up and hold me. I’m not sure what to make of this. They takes turns holding me and playing my with long curly brown hair. But now they must leave to finalize the adoption.
They put me back in the crib and say good bye. They will be back for me tomorrow once it is official. As they drive away I watch from my window, holding my Paddington close, wondering who are these people and if I’ll ever see them again.
I want to take a moment and talk about the situation in Darfur. I know it might seam a little off topic for this blog but I think there are some connections and it is something that I feel needs some attention.
If you are not familiar with the situation in Darfur, the government of Sudan is committing genocide against the African people who live there. There are reports of government backed militia wiping out entire villages, mass killings, and a policy of rape. The is more detail on the Darfur conflict on Wikipedia.
The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC had a special section on Darfur when I was there last month. However I was not able to spend much time looking at it. I really didn’t know anything about the conflict until I downloaded this free NBC News Special from iTunes last night. Its about 30min long and provides a good overview of the situation. There are also some videos on YouTube.
I think its important to talk about whats going on because of the Human rights violations that are taking place. In El Salvador there were similar human rights violations such as the El Mozote massacre were 900 civilians were kill in an anti-guerrilla campaign. The scale in Darfur is much larger which makes it all the more important to bring attention to the situation. Its hard to believe that even after the Holocaust events like this still take place all over the world in places such as El Salvador, Kosovo and Rwanda.
I wonder in this day and age of technology, what if the people in Darfur were able to blog and tell the world about their experiences? I Think there might be a much bigger outcry by the international community. The real power of blogs and new media is that it gives everyone a voice and a chance to be herd. Since the people in Darfur do not have a voice I feel it is up to us to speak for them.
I’m not here to preach or tell what you should do. I know people are busy and don’t take the time to look into these things. I know I didn’t. I also know these situations are difficult to hear about. But now that I do know I’m going to find out what I can do to help.
Its worth looking into and I’ll leave the rest up to you…