Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 11--Korpu

Half of the inspiration for the 12 Days of Christmas posts came from seeing photos last week of a girl named Korpu. That name might sound familiar to you Love in Liberia veterans.
{This is the very first photo that I took of Korpu in April 2008. She was terrified of white people!}

 I first met Korpu when I arrived in Liberia with ORR in early 2008. She was seriously the saddest child I had even seen. We weren't quite sure how old she was, but knew she was severely malnourished. She was probably 2 or 3 years old, but she couldn't stand on her own or talk. She was more like a 6 month old, and she weighed about 10 pounds. She was literally starving. Her growth and development were stunted. Most days, she was left to sit by herself in the dirt...and usually in her own mess.

We actually became involved in Korpu's orphanage because of her desperate situation. Once we investigated the home and the other children, the reality hit us that if we did not feed these children, they were going to die. The orphanage was hell on earth to a revolving door of 20-25 children. These beautiful, voiceless, scabies and ringworm infested, starving, distended bellied children absolutely stole my heart. I made weekly visits to deliver food, but found myself there at least 2-3 more times a week. Most days, the children were too hungry and lethargic to greet me when I would arrive. It was all I could do to love on these kids and any hint of a smile would make my day! Needless to say, alot of love, blood, sweat and plenty of tears went into fighting for these children.

For nearly two years, ORR was begging the government to shut down Korpu's orphanage. I continued to make frequent visits, but I was also praying that God would give these kids a way out. Eventually, I had to make the toughest decision--to end their food supply because the director continued to misuse it. That was my first big lesson in 'what steps must you take to teach the orphanage director a lesson at the expense of innocent children.' I didn't visit the orphanage for 2 weeks...the longest I'd been away from the children. My mind constantly worried--were they being fed, were they healthy? After two weeks, I made a surprise visit...and the children looked terrible. My heart broke.

{Korpu in November 2009}

During all of this, Korpu was receiving special attention. We were taking her to a feeding clinic for vitamin, mineral and protein supplements. We were working with her to try to get her to walk. We got special shoes and insoles for her. We tempted her to take steps with bananas and cassava root. We had our welfare monitor stretching and exercising her legs to gain strength. I think we were Korpu's biggest cheerleaders!

 {Visiting Korpu for the first time when I returned to Liberia in February 2010}

Eventually, we were able to partner with another organization to get Korpu placed in a foster home. We knew that with better care and one-on-one attention, Korpu's situation would improve. The day Korpu set out for her new home was bittersweet. The children, who helped take care of her and who played with her for the past few years, were in tears; which had me in tears. I momentarily felt like I was tearing apart a family, and knew that the orphanage, and Korpu's life, would never be the same.

Fast forward another few months, and a phone call came at 5am that there had been a fire at Korpu's old orphanage. The boy's dorm was practically destroyed, but everyone was ok. The fire was a strange answer to a long-standing prayer! The government moved in and closed down the orphanage! That was about 1 1/2 years ago.

{Korpu last week. Happy and healthy! Photos from GOO's blog.}

Now fast forward to last week. Photos of Korpu were posted on the blog of the organization that placed her in foster care. I was shocked...and then found myself in disbelief...and then I was full of laughter, joy and thanksgiving! All I could do was thank God! It's kids like Korpu that remind me why I'm doing all of this. I might not be able to change the life of every child in Liberia, but I get the opportunity to play a very small role in the lives of a handful of precious children in Liberia everyday. Sometimes I still can't believe that this is my 'job' and that God has chosen me to be a part of His story in Liberia! Thank you Jesus for rescuing Korpu, and so many other children like her!

If you would like to further Orphan Relief and Rescue's work in Liberia and to continue the fight for children like Korpu, please consider making a year-end donation to ORR. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

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