VOLUNTEER | Facing the Unexpected
“I started my spiritual journey as a middle-aged young Christian and have always wanted to serve in the mission field. There’s often an age limit and specific skill set required for mission work. So, although my passion remained strong, I continued to pursue full-time ministry locally and put mission work at the back of my mind.”
Hilda went back to school in 2005 to study counselling and then work in a church. “It was in late 2016, I met someone in Toronto who was involved with ICC at the time. She introduced me to Madeline Fok, an ICC international volunteer, who is also from Toronto, Canada. She suggested that I come on a short-term trip (January 2017), which had turned out to be a long-term commitment!”
Hilda shares her recent experience as a volunteer at the Hengyang Care Centre.
A Peanut Story
It happened on March 18th during the Covid-19 lockdown in Hengyang Care Centre.
The notice of a 30-day complete lockdown came on Saturday, February 22nd, an unprecedented safety measure to try to keep the centre virus-free. The management staff had about 24 hours to come up with an emergency plan. Everyone worked hard to make sure that our children will continue to receive quality care during this pandemic emergency.
More than 80 staff, mainly caregivers, along with some managers, therapists, teachers, youth workers and international volunteers came together to provide basic services during the lockdown. I started with a sense of disbelief about the lockdown measures being put in place, and the slight discomfort that I may have to lose my personal space while living inside the care centre. But at the same time, I also thought that I was going to make a lot of discoveries during this unusual time.
So, along with other staff and two other international volunteers, Hilda moved into the care centre, to keep the children and young people safe.
When I moved into the care centre I had doubts about myself. I was not sure if I had much to contribute to the team during these very unusual circumstances. Regular activities were suspended due to home quarantine and we had to come up with some new programmes. I might not be up to the type of work required and it was a big challenge!
We turned an office into our bedroom on the third floor where some young ladies live, so we became neighbours and had frequent interactions. I also went to one of the girls’ homes for a shower every evening. The home is called Lotus Family and Xi is one of the young ladies there.
Xi is 28 years old and she communicates with sign language. She is cheerful, responsible and able to help with some household chores. She can take care of herself as well as other sisters in her home. Everyday, Xi would come to remind us about dinner time, wash our dishes and empty the bin. Since I took a shower in the Lotus family, she would come frequently every day to remind me to shower! It’s probably her way of showing hospitality, but it’s funny that someone reminded me to shower all the time!”
One evening, when I was enjoying some quiet time in the office, Xi came to find me. This was usually their TV time at home. She looked at me through the window, signalled me to shower, and then knocked on the door. To my surprise, Xi actually came to give me a peanut. She didn’t say anything but she walked away with a big smile, and her face was shining with satisfaction!
To me, this single peanut revealed the simplicity and love expressed in an authentic way. I felt so happy to be loved and cared for through this token of a small peanut that Xi is so ready to share.
It is certainly not how much we have, but how much we give that brings meaning to life! This is the life transformation we see in many children here. Slowly but surely, the fruits of love and joy are growing in them!