Friday, 13 March 2015

Volunteering overseas: #1's experience

During the December holidays, #1 flew to Shanghai on her own to visit her aunt. Her aunt had been encouraging them to go over during their school holidays to get immersed in the Chinese culture. Now that she had completed her 'O' level exams, the timing was right for her to make the trip.

Besides the usual sight-seeing, shopping and eating agenda, we decided it would be a great opportunity for her to help out at Will Foundation.

What is Will Foundation?

It is a sustainable and self-sufficient eco-learning centre for disadvantaged children. Imagine that! I was intrigued. I learned that the founder, Pilar, took in several orphans as her own because she felt that she would be able to give them a better future under her care. What a big heart. And where would they find such a huge place for all of them to live in? A kind family generously donated their unused land to this project.

Their garden
It was wonderful that Pilar agreed to take #1 in at such short notice, and the arrangements were quickly made. She spent a week there volunteering as an intern, which basically meant helping out wherever necessary, which included doing household chores and playing with the 10 children. We called her one evening, and her siblings wanted to know how she spent her time there. She told us that she had just finished mopping the floor with freezing cold water! Definitely a first for her (yes, both the mopping and the freezing water).

This is #1's account of her 1-week stint with the Will family:

The children follow a time-table and every morning, they would do their running rounds in the courtyard before coming in for breakfast. After breakfast, they will make their way to class for lessons. The household is run with strict rules, and lights out is at 8pm. There is no wifi available and the use of handphones is discouraged. (This is probably harder for the volunteers than the children!)
School room
After a few sessions, it is time for a break, and the kids will go out to the courtyard to play. Even the ones with aids will help themselves to a round of soccer.
Score!
The two younger children have physiotherapy in a separate room, and this is where they also do little kid's stuff like playing with blocks and working with picture cards. It was the Christmas season and we had fun fooling around with the hats! Mary is the only girl in the family and she took to me immediately. The kids are very adorable and boisterous, which is to be expected from having 9 young boys in the house! It was a very meaningful and eye-opening experience.
Lil' Santarina
Volunteering opportunities:

If you are able to spare some time, and can help out in areas like tutoring, crafting, mentoring or cleaning, do drop them an email at info@email.willfound.org.

You could also make a direct donation online, and any amount, both big and small will make a difference to these young lives.

The Will kids at home
Even though #1 spent a short one week there, Mary became attached to her and when it was time to say goodbye, she was reluctant to see her go.

After her week at Will home, I kept my fingers crossed that she would help out more when she returned, and perhaps start mopping the floor. No such luck though. Nonetheless, I can see that #1 has a soft spot for children and she must have enjoyed her time with the kids.

Hmmm, I should run my household like the Will home. Impressive.

Goodbyes are hard...

Getting there:

Will Foundation is located on Chong Ming island, which is 1 hour from Hong Qiao.
It will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours by public transport, depending on which part of Shanghai you are coming from.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

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