This text was written by Liu Huixian, young Chinese volunteer that spent nearly 6 months living and serving in one of our Children’s homes.
I come from Hebei Province, will be 22 years old this year, and my name is Liu Huixian. I was born in a Catholic family. From the generation of my grandparents on we already had Catholics in the family, and I also have an uncle who is a priest. Because I grew in this Catholic familiar environment, it was very natural for me to think of going and do something for people who need help.
I am very glad that this year such an opportunity came up. My uncle helped and encouraged me to sign up, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to grow, and to learn many things, and so I signed up and came to the Children’s Home.
At the Children’s home, I would start to work at 6:30. In the morning, after getting out of bed, the first thing was to help the children with their hygiene, and also to clean up their rooms. The children have to take their medicine everyday at 7:30, and after they all finished I would take them to school. One of the schools they attend does not prepare lunch for them, so I had to go pick some of the children, bring them back home for lunch and then accompany back to school in the afternoon. After I left them at school I would return home and start taking care of their clothes, so that when they returned they would each have their own cloth in order and ready to wear. After I finished arranging the clothes, I would rest a bit and then leave again to go pick them up from school and bring them home. In the evening we would do the homework together. I was in charge of helping all the children of primary school age to do their homework. Because the children are so many, when it’s time for them to take their medicine they have to form a line and go one by one not to make any mistakes. At first I would not help with this, but after I got more familiar with the process I also stared to help giving them their medicine.
There, each time I took the children to school I had to do it in two turns, because in the electric bike I drive I could only take 2 children each time. Even so, the process of bringing them to school and back home each day always made me feel happy because I would go all the way talking very joyfully with them. In the evening, they especially liked to call me and to have me helping them doing the homework. And while they were doing it, my brain would always start to work, and I would think a lot about all this I was living. Also they often asked me many questions, very interesting and even deep questions, and this would force to think even harder in search for answers.
One of the experiences that impressed me more was to meet one of our little boys. At home he was very active and lively, but _ I had never would imagined it _ in school he would suddenly become very silent and would not talk to anyone. Even during the long class breaks he would not even call the other classmates to play. So I asked him: “When you are at school with whom do you play? What do you do during the breaks?” He answered: “In the breaks I always stay inside the classroom doing my homework and reading the book, I don’t play with them.” Then I asked: “Why don’t you play with the other children? You spend such a long time in school, with whom do you speak?” He said: “They are bad, so I don’t play with them. I stay and talk with myself.” When I heard this I was shocked. It was obvious that he was closing himself. After this I talked with one of the teachers about this and she was also very worried about it. Then we decided to give him a special mission: he would have to talk with his classmates in school; it was new a rule for him. If this is not “corrected” now, then when he grows up it will be impossible to do. Now he is much better, he is just shy and a bit insecure about talking with others, but much better. After seeing this kind of situations I think that the help we give is not only material help, but more importantly the psychological and “human help” that we can give by giving them the care they need most.
There is also a small girl (still in Kindergarten) that was participating in a drawing class. Whenever she drew a new painting she would come home and offer it to me. But she wouldn’t give it to me directly. First she would come and tell me that she had made a new painting. Then she would wait for me to ask her if I could see it, and only then would she let me see it. This was very important for her self-respect. She came from an orphanage, and she doesn’t know who her parents are, but she would invent many things about her “imaginary” parents. Before I left them and came back to my home, she came to me and told me very seriously not to forget to take all her drawings with me. I told her not to worry, and that I would treasure every one of them. She really needs our care and attention, and because her personality is so special (and complicated) every time we were together I always needed to think really hard of ways of helping her without hurting her feelings.
To be honest, I must say that when I arrived at the Children’s home and during the first weeks I was really afraid. I was afraid of contracting some decease form the Children (they all suffer from AIDS), and during the first month I often had nightmares because of this. I was worried that I might get infected and often thought about how bad that would be for my family and of course for me. So, I tried to find a balanced way of helping the children while protecting my security at the same time. But, as the time passed, my fears slowly disappeared and the more time I spent with them, the more I would forget about those fears and bad thoughts. And even if many of them are very naughty and would make me angry sometimes, I also feel that they brought me much joy. They would pull my hand to go and play games with them, and be near them. To their eyes I am like an older sister, and even if they were told to call me “aunt”, they would not agree and continue to call me “big sister”.
At the Children’s home I learned many things that are not in books, I learned a little more about what it means to grow as a person, and how much helping others also helps us to grow. I am very grateful for the time I spent there, and especially for the feeling that my life is more meaningful because of that.