Her breath smelled bad. I was overcome with this smell as she sucked on the lollypop I gave her. After I saw a black tooth rotting in the back of her mouth, I questioned the wisdom of giving it to her.

I came to the Egyam Orphanage that day to bring dozens of shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks and toys. The donations from Semester at Sea were even paying for a full year of school expenses for all of the orphans. But I couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t enough.

Am I really helping here? Am I really making any kind of difference? I don’t really know. There seems to be so much need, but it’s not clear how to even begin to fix it.

She is so young, maybe 10 years old. The owner of the orphanage said that she probably won’t get a good education. She doesn’t even have a chance unless she proves she is smarter than all of her peers. Even then, she probably won’t be prosperous. She won’t be able to grow. If you get a master’s degree here, that’s great. And, if you are lucky, you can use that degree to get a job as a tour guide.

She is smart though. There is no doubt about that. Her English is much better than most of the girls her age at the orphanage. She can even tell the time. And, she shows an interest in learning. She is also a great singer. She sings about Jesus and how much she loves Him.

What will happen when the children here run out of shoes and money? Will another organization donate more?

If her shoes fall apart, she isn’t allowed to go to school.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to give her.

She will never have a life like mine. I wish she could.

I’m starting to get discouraged. Every donation seems like the lollypop. It only satisfies for a moment. She’s smiling right now, but when she’s finished sucking on the candy, we will be gone. The sweet taste will leave her mouth. And there she will sit in the hope that someone else will listen to her songs and provide for her needs.

— Ashley May

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