"We’re moving to Africa!”
After such Earth shattering news there is no emotion, only numbness. My reaction differed from the rest of my family’s. My father, with his collected demeanor would assuage all my concerns and the decision was made. Fifth grade ended with saying goodbye to my childhood friends, and the next day I arrived in Lusaka, Zambia, my new home. My family had two primary goals: to adopt a little girl and for my dad to install an irrigation system at a farm that would serve as an orphanage and youth recovery program.
About three weeks into our Zambian adventure, we met Mary at Bill & Betty’s Orphanage in Garden Compound. There was an instant connection. She was four years old and I was the only person she would come to. I thought that this was an obvious sign of some sort and after a week of developing a relationship, my family started the Zambian side of the adoption process. Everything was going smoothly; Mary had been abandoned by her mother and it seemed as though she had been hand delivered to us. The last step was the doctor check up. We walked into the hospital cheerfully, as if we had already added a new member of the family. As the doctor went through the information the numbness now attacked my entire family. Mary was HIV positive.
She did not know that anything was wrong, but as we pulled up to the orphanage and dropped her off, I had many questions as to what the future would hold. When we arrived at our Zambian home, my family got together and numbness turned into grief. Uncontrollable sobbing overtook my body. Mary’s condition did not matter; she was the only child that could complete our family. Then my father, the voice of reason, spoke, explained what we had just gone through.
Personal experiences make statistics come to life. I did not know why we had to suffer through this, but this experience deepened my burden for Zambia, and showed me how important my family’s work truly was. Mary gave me a glimpse into what everyday life is for not only people in Zambia, but for people around the world. As more complications with the adoption arose, the rational decision was made, and we moved away from Mary with a heavy In the end we did adopt a baby girl, but that would take far more than 500 words to tell of her miracle. Now we sponsor Mary to provide her with schooling and medication, so in a way we still adopted the girl we came to love.
Mary gave me an awareness of the real world and unmasked me from the comforts of living in America. My experience showed me a larger purpose in life, beyond achieving personal goals. Although I still do not have all the answers from my experience with Mary, I realize that it was necessary to equip me with a new world outlook.