Lo – ee – a

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Adam and GloriaShe had the most beautiful eyes and smile that he could never forget. He had already connected with a few of the other kids there, joking and playing, and always she was there, hanging at the back of the group, sticking her hand out and trying to give him a high five. Living on the fringe, always the one looking in, wondering what it is like on the other side.Adam was there to help our Hero Holiday staff prepare for our upcoming group, working alongside of the orphanage staff for what was about to happen. She showed up at the orphanage driveway with the other 29 kids that had been collected from a nearby tent city on the outskirts of Port Au Prince. All of them either orphaned or abandoned. She looked to be between three and four years old and like all of the other kids, she was scared and traumatized, not knowing where she was and what was next. Only unlike the other kids, she was always on the outside of the circles, hanging on the fringes. For some reason that none of the adults could understand, the other girls didn’t take to her. But Adam had noticed her.FriendsAs days went by we started joking around more and I noticed that she hadn’t bonded closely to many other children. Wherever there are groups of kids there are always groups of friends, and in those groups there is always the one kid who is hanging out on the fringes. Sometimes they are in on the fun, but mostly they are excluded. That was her – trying so much to hang out with some of the older girls but never being accepted.This broke my heart because growing up that was my story: in high school that was me. There were a group of guys that I thought were the coolest kids ever and I would try to hang out with them, but if the car was full it was me who got excluded, if someone was to be made fun of, it was me.When I saw this happening to her I saw myself. Granted she is much younger, but it was the same thing. The only difference was, at the end of the day I went home to a family who loved and supported me. She doesn’t have that. Her parents gave her to Kay Papa Nou and they have no intention of coming back and finding her.GloriaFrom that day on I had my eye on her, watching her, laughing with her. I would be the one to notice her – at least for now. The day that everything shifted was the day we were going out to the field with David (the head of Kay Papa Nou) and the BBC news reporters who were coming to highlight the new tents that had been donated for the children. As I hopped over the creek onto the property she was standing there. She waited for me to cross the stream and then reached for my hand. After a while I picked her up and was walking around with her. We sat down and I could tell she was so overwhelmed with everything she was seeing: kids everywhere, news reporters, tents, possibly dreaming about a new home? In one week she had been left by her parents, was dropped off at Kay Papa Nou and now was possibly going to be calling this new tent city her home. As I sat with her in the field, older kids came and teased her. That’s when I got this overwhelming feeling of protection for her – I didn’t want her to ever feel unloved again.The next day I knew it was time to get ready to leave, but getting ready to say goodbye was difficult. She sat on the ground and didn’t move. I tried everything to make her laugh, but it wouldn’t work. So I picked her up and we sat on a chair in David’s office. As she put her head into my chest and fell asleep in my arms I just held her and didn’t want to let go – ever. I wanted her to know that she mattered to me. I want to work to make her world safe and filled with love.Although she looked to be about 3 and a half, when Adam asked her how old she was she said she didn’t know. And when he asked her what her name was, all she could manage in her little girl lisp was “Lo-ee-a”. Gloria. Adam and GloriaWill we be able to make a place in the world for the Glorias that are out there? Will their voice be heard and their lives remembered? They need to know what it is to be celebrated, to be cherished and to be made a priority. There is hope for them because there is hope for each one of us. Hero Holiday is returning to the children’s home in two weeks, and when we get there we will work to make Gloria’s world safe and secure and we will work to help each one of those kids know that together they are stronger and that each of them matters.Your voice can be added to Gloria’s. Your life can make a difference. To find out more about how to get involved with Hero Holiday in the areas that we work in, please check out We need your help to do what we do because together we are stronger. If you would like to help us do more, check out”Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: April 11th, 2010