How does the reality of volunteering at New Day compare to expectations? A special guest post from a recent volunteer gives some insights...
The expectations I had for New Day and what I actually experienced there were vastly different. Traveling from America to China gave me a lot of time to think about what my time there would be like. I imagined we would interact with children, but that it would be in a limited capacity. I also imagined the kids would be sad or anti-social thus making it difficult to play with or teach them. Once I arrived at the New Day site we received a brief tour followed by orientation. We saw a video detailing a lot of the kids here and some of their background stories, which were all sad and filled with surgery and abandonment.
I imagine the parents who abandoned the kids with severe medical conditions could not afford treatment and thought it was hopeless. After listening to the stories of the children and hearing about examinations or surgeries the doctors said the same thing too, that the child was hopeless. This set a somber mood and made me question if I could even be of service to the children.
The mood did lift however, as the video went on every kid in there overcame their situation whether it be through surgery or a miracle. Once the video ended we were assigned an age group and tasked to play with the kids. Much to my surprise they were all smiling, laughing, and playing. That day I was assigned to help with the babies, which was scary because they cry and poop. They were all easy to care for and as happy as could be. I quickly grew attached and started to enjoy my time with them.
The following day I was assigned to help with toddlers, which again was scary because they eat boogers and climb things. As soon as I walked in the room they were all playing and filled with life and laughter. I noticed it was much more than that however; they were also filled with hope. Interacting and looking into the eyes of every kid here you can see hope. Despite the conditions they were born into, despite their parents giving up, despite doctors branding them as hopeless, they over came and exhibit a hope like you have never seen before.
I was expecting to teach them but walked away learning more than I ever did in any class room. Babies who experienced blood transfusions smiled and laughed. Kids who had major surgery now ran and played. Most importantly, kids who were deemed hopeless now exuded hope. I am very grateful for my time here and will carry their hope on with me no matter where I go.
This post was written by Jake, a recent volunteer.