I taught them how to use the camera and they were each excited to have their turn at being a photographer. Unfortunately, the excitement led to my camera slipping between little hands and the result was a stuck lens. The little Buddhas looked at me horrified and apologetically. One of my cousins saw this and jokingly asked which stick he should hit them with for breaking my camera. The little Buddhas found the smallest stick on the ground and said to use that one. I laughed and the lens was shoved back into working condition.
The little Buddhas begged me to come back the following year and bring them printouts of their pictures. As most novice monks are there for only a week at a time, I asked if they would still be at the temple next year. They responded that they would. That was when I realized that they were all orphans that the temple had taken in. They would still be there the following year because they had nowhere else to go.
Most people in Burma are quite poor and lack the means to take care of their growing families so many children are left in the care of temples by parents who cannot afford to keep them. It’s such a sad situation and I really feel for these kids. There were about a dozen of these orphans at my family’s temple, but there are hundreds of temples like that in Burma. Think of how many children that means are abandoned by their families.
I promised the children I would come back soon to see them again and take more pictures of them.© Connie Hum 2010