Silent Tears: A Journey of Home in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
Ugh, I feel like I read this so long ago and won't do it justice by finally writing about it now. Silent Tears documents the authors time in China while volunteering at a local orphanage. The author shares her story in journal format mostly focused on the orphanage, but also gives us a glimpse into life as an American living in China.
I'll warn you - it's heartbreaking and you may end the book feeling like you want to foster or adopt a gazillion babies. There were times I thought I should stop reading as it was just too difficult to stomach the lives these children were living (or not living). The orphanage was not a warm, loving place and a lot of children died or lived in less than favorable conditions. And if children were not in good health they were less likely to get attention, full feedings, and general care.
The author helped find additional volunteers and they were not only able to assist the staff, but hold the children, bring them treats, and raise money for surgeries. The volunteers had to struggle with what they thought was best for the babies (more food, warm rooms, being held, medical help...) with needing to be mindful of cultural norms, and financial constraints. For some volunteers it was understandably too much, but for others it drove them to continue doing what they could for these children.
Is this orphanage representative of all orphanages in China? Probably not. And I'm guessing there have been changes to this particular site as well. At least I hope so. But I think the author gives us a good inside view of what life is like for these children and that sometimes little things can make a big difference.
Books read since the beginning of 2012: 21