Where we live is who we are
“I am from a children's home. I come from nowhere. I don't expect you to like me. I don't expect you to care. Because no one has before. But if you do, I don't trust you. My past is dark with shadows and pain. And now I'm in a children's home. I don't do well in school. I act out and get bad grades. I don't want to be expelled, but I'm from the children's home. All the kids are like me. They all act out. They smoke and they swear, and we all live together. We are the same because we all live in the children's home, although few of us tell our friends. Because where we live is who we are. We are the children's home. A place of troubles and hurts. A place with no hope. Because everyone who enters has a problem — is a problem. And I have no hope. I have no future. I have no choice. When I'm bad, I am excused. It's normal for me to misbehave. It's expected. I have no choice. I'm from a children's home.
So give me hope, give me freedom, give me education, give me support, give me comfort, give me a future. I won't find these things on my own. I am incapable because after all, I live in a children's home. And my future holds only problems. I am from a children's home. And when I'm thirty ... ? I will still live in a children's home, not in body, but in mind.”
This was written anonymously not because the author is some unknown person in a far off place. Much to the contrary, this is all too close to home. It was written by everyone who lives here. It has been written and felt and expressed many times and many ways. It is not the work of one sad youth who is beyond help. It is not just one failed person who must be addressed. Rather it is a failed system, of institutionalised child care. This piece belongs to anyone who has lived in a children's home. To all the youth who feel that they belong nowhere and are destined to fail — because if their families don't want them then why should the rest of the world? This was written anonymously because it was not written by a person, but rather by a place. It will continue to be written as long as children live in homes where there is no hope or self-confidence.
It is not our job to give these children a future, force them to have an education, or fix all of their problems. It is much better to help them to have the self-confidence, determination, independence and problem-solving skills to make it on their own. To do this is much harder and takes much more patience and understanding. But in the end it is the only way to help today's youth become tomorrow's leaders.
— Kirsten Jo Eby, a volunteer