Over the Christmas holidays I was fortunate enough to spend several weeks living at Safe Haven Orphanage. This was my third visit to this special place, therefore the children are more than just friends to me; they are family.
Prior to leaving Australia, the Somerset Community donated funds to allow one child’s dream of owning a pair of Nike shoes become reality. I would like to say a massive thank you to each and every person who helped me during this fundraising process. We were able to purchase some second-hand Nike-branded shoes for every child and the look on their face when they saw these gifts were priceless. I will always treasure the memory of seeing their faces light up as they ‘showed off’ their new prized possession.
Whilst there, we volunteered at the local school to help teach English. The school facilities and resources were limited and overcrowding was prominent but despite these harsh conditions, each and every child was eager to soak up the chance to be educated. Perhaps sometimes, we should all pause for a moment and reflect on how privileged we are to attend Somerset College, where endless doors await us, because I know for a fact that each and every child at Safe Haven Orphanage would jump at the chance to be given the opportunities that we have.
There was a definite language barrier between the children and I, however the saying “love recognises no barriers” rang true. We were able to laugh and enjoy each other’s company as we shared in their daily chores of washing, gardening or caring for the young children. Whilst we were living there, four new children were simply dropped off at the main entrance to the orphanage. Within minutes of their arrival, the children had embraced the strangers and openly accepted them into the Safe Haven family. No one was ever excluded because they were different or new instead they were integrated into the loving, caring community. The children freely shared their clothes and blankets with the newcomers and took their hand to guide them into the daily routine.
It was very heartbreaking saying our final farewells. My friends often commend me for giving up my holidays to help others, however the truth is, they help me more than I help them. Living this experience makes me understand the concept of gratitude and appreciate how fortunate I am to be born and raised in a western country with opportunities abound.
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