Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage is not your typical travel book; it is a collection of journal entries by Kay Bratt describing her experiences and emotions during the four years she and her family spent in China for her husband’s job, particularly related to the time she spent volunteering in an orphanage.
“Our families thought we had lost our minds when we accepted and began planning our move to China, a land that then seemed mysterious and wonderful to us” Bratt begins, but, as with many who leave their home for a foreign land, she soon discovers that there are many many differences.
Grocery shopping, going out to eat, and transportation become challenges and Bratt’s emotions take a toll from the changes: “Without question, it’s a daily test of patience for foreigners to live in this land of chaos.”
Her patience is most severely tested when she begins volunteering at a local orphanage—a freezing cold room full of abandoned children (many with physical ailments), harsh unforgiving caregivers, and minimal food. Bratt’s volunteer team is challenged to overcome their judgments and their heartbreak; they must come together to do what they can to improve the living conditions for the children…and they do.
As much as the story is upsetting and negative, it is also a story of hope and change. There are some successes in the orphanage and readers get an inside glimpse of how Bratt adapts to her surroundings: “After a year and a half, however, we are starting to see more layers. We see the grace of the people dutifully tending the gardens, the beauty of the land, the intricately designed pagodas, and the long-lasting and diligently maintained paddy fields.”
China is, no doubt, a fascinating country with many layers of history and culture and Silent Tears takes a look at some of those layers. Anyone looking to understand more about the reality of China’s orphanages will appreciate Bratt’s honesty.
Title: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage
Author: Kay Bratt
Publisher: Mariner Books
Year Published: 2011
ISBN number: 054774496X, 978-0547744964
Formats available: Paperback, Kindle, Audio