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August 17, 2022

Us and Them?

By Vlad Popescu

My sister is adopted. I don’t exactly remember my reaction when my parents told me for the first time that they intend to adopt a little girl, and that she will be my sister. At the time, probably I hadn’t given much thought to it, and I was just happy to have someone to share my toys and play with. We grew up together without feeling any differences, as the same asset to the family.

When I was around twelve years old, I remember seeing my mother folding some small clothes I used to wear. She was wondering what to do with them, and an idea struck my mind: “We should take them to my sister’s ex-foster home”. My mother said they were not enough, and I promised to find more.

The following day, at school, I started sharing my idea among the classmates, and during that month I managed to gather enough clothes for the children from the foster home. I would collect clothes from classmates, from teammates from my basketball team, and friends from the neighborhood. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family and friends.

I saw that as a good start, and during that same year I was very preoccupied with activities of the sort. When the winter holiday started approaching, I felt like doing something at a bigger scale for St. Nicholas’ Day and Christmas. In my country, children usually get sweets and candies on St. Nicholas’ Day. Me and my sister would get to many sweets, so we decided to share them to children from foster homes, just like I did with my clothes. I shared the idea again among my classmates, friends, and neighbors, and my father helped me print a poster. This way I started my own small project called “One Sweet-One smile”.

I placed the poster at the school’s entrance, and left it there for a few days. I was upset to find out that almost nobody bothered to leave anything by the poster. The first thing I did was to ask my father why it went wrong. He told me without holding back : “I was almost sure you were going to fail. But I let you do it, because it’s an experience from which you need to learn. Your classmates will never be in the mood for your ideas at 8 A.M., neither after classes, when they want to go home. If you want them to be interested, I suggest you sit next to your poster, and explain your intentions to each of them.”

I proved to be very persuasive, and after a few weeks I started to enjoy the fruits of my labor. On St. Nicholas’ Day, I visited the foster home with my sister, and shared to the children everything that I managed to gather. They had happy looks on their faces, and I realized that it was not because of the candy, but rather because somebody thought about them. They were filled with hope, seeing my sister, and thinking about the fact that there could be the same outcome for them.

That was when it occurred to me that the real challenge was not bringing them sweets, but spreading the feeling that there are no differences between them and other children.

I would love to see that children from foster homes get the same chances as other kids do. Unfortunately, they do not, but it’s something that can be fixed. We take short steps when we want progress, or when we want to change things. Because when it comes to great causes like this, progress never comes all of a sudden. And it all takes a great implication, with small steps.

The first step towards achieving that is realizing that there is never a matter of us and them.



The author of this essay is a high-school student at Tallulah Falls School , GA, USA

Photo: www.pixabay.com


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