Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This Child Here - Nadia Decides

This post is reprinted with permission from an email circulated by Robert Gamble of This Child Here.  I have posted other emails from him from time to time.

As I begin this, Yulia and I are in flight from Kiev, Ukraine to Munich, Germany, the first leg of the trip home that will take us next to Newark for a few hours and finally to Atlanta. I am thinking about what we know that others do not know and perhaps will not ever know. I am thinking of all the places I have been and adventures I have had and the warm family I grew up in that is the solid base upon which I can and have had such experiences. 

These are things the girl in this picture here will probably never know, neither the places I have been nor the experience of a warm family like the one I was formed within. This girl's name is on the paper tag on her shirt: Nadia. Note the arm bands, black and white. I've seen this before. They likely cover scars from a knife or razor.  

In the final weekend of the visit to Ukraine, our team led workshops in two orphanages about three hours by train from Odessa. The girl pictured here lives at the orphanage in a town called Kotovsk. One hundred and ten children live at this orphanage. It is a town of perhaps 30,000 people. 

Nadia decides

 In this moment children are in a circle, in the foreground is a stuffed animal, out of focus, held by Alla, our team leader. The rule is, the person with the toy, speaks; the others listen. The discussion will vary but mostly center on topics like who we trust and why, or how we support our friends. 

Roma - Take my picture
Two other youth are pictured: a boy named Roma who would not participate in many of the games we played, because for him they were too embarrassing, but who clearly wanted his picture taken as he leaned back for me to shoot it. And then, this girl, Tanya  who jumped into the action and conversation, laughing and making others laugh.
Tanya - pick me, pick me

These are kids destined for a life very different from ours. They won't know what you and I know and experience here in America. But that is not the end of hope or the end of the story. What we give these children when we come is the time to build upon the love and friendships and trust they are already forming. 

Our goal is not to hold their hands or give them blankets or candy, but to help them find the strong person they can be--and that person is often hiding inside them.

As I finish this newsletter I am back now in the states. In one of the several airports we passed through, I saw an interesting poster: a picture of a girl who looked to be twelve or thirteen and living in poverty somewhere in Asia. At the top of the picture were the words, "I am powerful." 

That's what we are about in our work with children. It's one thing to help with food, clothing and medical care. It's another to help children find the courage and strength inside to make a life. 
Grace and Peace,
Robert Gamble

Dr. Robert Gamble,
cell phone: 828 318 2149
Interim Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Cumberland MD

Director, This Child Here
Donations to This Child Here can be made on the website or by check to: This Child Here, 245 Seaview Ave, Daytona Beach, Fl 32118

We do not Believe in
Ourselves until someone
Reveals that deep inside us
Something is valuable,
Worth listening to, worthy
Of our touch, sacred to our touch.
Once we believe in ourselves we can
Risk curiosity, wonder, Spontaneous
Delight, or any experience that reveals
The human spirit.
e.e. cummings


  1. I recall watching a documentary on the street children in St. Petersburg. My god Fodder I've seen rats live a better life. If I wasn't hanging on by a thread myself I'd be more than willing to help.

    1. Understand totally. Charity begins at home, then close to home.
      In Soviet times, none of this happened. Not to say people didn't fall through the cracks but there were people and programs in place to help kids like this. Now of course there is nothing. The marketplace reigns supreme and the rich and powerful steal it all.