Having already been to numerous HOPE Youth Corps before, I was excited to see how this experience would soften my heart again. Each past HYC has truly taught me a lot- from loving one another, to Jesus’ compassion.
A part of the renewal work was to scrub the walls before we could paint a new layer. It was a daunting task for hours on end and, honestly, I couldn’t see how doing this would make a difference in the kids’ lives, and I felt like I wasn’t giving much. Adding to that is the fact that I could see that the other volunteers, whose roles were to teach the kids, were more personally involved with them. However, Jiah, one of our GSI leaders for the trip, mentioned how what we do actually helps them to take pride in their school- seeing their school clean and new, and that even the seemingly boring task we were doing, makes a difference in the children.
After school, there was some time when everyone gets to play with the kids before they went home. I was overwhelmed at how clingy they all were and also how much they needed attention all the time. On Christmas day, we had the opportunity to visit the kid’s houses to see their living conditions and to spend time with them. In the house my group visited, there were 7 people living in the house, including the little girl who studied at the HOPE school, yet there were only three beds in total.
We then asked what her hobby was and she said that it was washing the dishes. Confused and unsure if she understood us, we asked what else she likes to do for fun, and she said she likes to cook for the whole family. Hearing her answers made me realise how she had to fill in adult roles in taking care of her younger siblings and cousins, since her father has to work every day and night to provide for the family. Listening to her go on about her hobbies also made me realise that the kids are really deprived of attention; they only get to be kids when they’re in school. I was encouraged to know that the little service and love that I give does make a difference in the kids’ life.
Looking at the little girl and her family, I see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 come to life.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
It was about seeing that obeying God’s commands about love is fundamental to what the meaning of love is. To be patient, kind, not self-seeking, serving and loving to the children, also helped me to better understand about how He sees the world with compassion and love. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity for my heart to be stirred.