Hope Villages Goodwill Mission Trip Dec 2017Jan 2018 Issue
Jan 1, 2018 | 0 comments
I was terrified and a little apprehensive when I decided to embark on a goodwill trip with a group of 27 Singapore volunteers. Strangers became roommates, hang out buddies and even friends-with-inside-jokes. I bonded, laughed and had the time of my life.
When we arrived at the village, it was bustling with kids. Surveying them from inside the 40-seater bus, the inner kid in me was excited. The innocence they carried is something I envy. Along with my new found friends, we bounded our way towards the kids.
Our meals were served in a huge lotus leaf, prepared by the villagers. We feasted on rice, fried chicken and papaya salad. It was delightful and unique.
After the hearty meal, we dispersed to our different activities. I was assigned to interview some families. Visiting the villagers’ homes was very humbling and eye-opening for me. The owners invited us to their hut and narrated their stories.
Living in the village in the hut house is tough, she narrated. She has to repeatedly fix her house with lalangs. When taking baths, she has to draw water from the open well. There isn’t enough food on the plate to provide to her family.
Listening to her and putting myself in her shoes, I am thankful for having ample food and feeling safe in our homes. In Maslow Hierarchy of needs, the physiological needs are the most important need we have to attain. Without these needs, I ponder how I would react and adapt to my situation. I have come away with a newfound respect for the villagers here.
Later in the day, we spent time connecting and playing with the kids. They were a bundle of energy, eager, and curious. We taught them Singaporean children games where they participated actively. Although some of these games were not thoroughly enjoyed like ‘What time is it, Mr Wolf?’, we realized that the children love games that involved running. Watching them laughed, having fun with their friends and not bickering about trivial materialistic things, it struck me that we can be contented with so much less. Not only does it refresh my mind on the importance of gratitude and contentment, it reminds me of the need to instill the value of thankfulness in our lives, not only for the things we have but also, for the people around us.
Even when we took candid photographs with their cheek to cheek smiles, it taught us that there is a power in smiles, a compelling power that breaks down multiple barriers. The adults and children were so generous with their smiles that their sincerity shone to us brightly albeit the language barrier. We felt their warm hearts and open arms, making this trip very memorable.
While, some of us were interacting and playing soccer in an open field with branches as goal poles, the medical team attended to 127 patients and the dental team treated 24 dental problems. The home economics team were having a time of their life teaching the village ladies Singapore cookies. I was amazed how a simple haircut can put the smiles on the boys’ faces.
The Final Takeaway
This short getaway taught me valuable lessons. Firstly, volunteering is a two-way thing – it is in the giving that we received. Second, the villagers want so little but they actually need so much. This trip is an absolute eye-opener for me.