April 2, 2007

Two Tigers

Today I began a volunteer job at an orphanage. Somehow I just didn’t picture all the babies with disabilities. Cleft lips and palates, Down’s syndrome, preemies, they were all strapped into cribs, tearing my heart out with their bright eyes and big smiles. The orphanage was as clean and cheerful as it could be, and I was happy to hear them playing Mozart’s Twinkle Twinkle variations, but there just aren’t enough arms to hold them, let alone families to love them. The adoption rate from this particular orphanage is abysmally low, and I have yet to determine why. Perhaps because of the high percentage of children with special needs.

One tiny sweetie with a shock of fuzzy hair and the spindliest little legs I ever saw, fell asleep in my arms after cooing along to the tune of Frere Jacque. They have their own words to this song in Mandarin, here is the literal translation:

Two tigers, two tigers

Running fast, running fast

One has no ears, one has no tail

Truly strange, truly strange

There were over fifty little tigers in those two small rooms, and over half of them were there because of their “strangeness.” It it made me feel so helpless when I saw their legs curling up from disuse, their eyes hungry for affection.

All I could do was sing them a song, and tell them they were not strange, but beautiful.