“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American artist, poet, writer
As a team we expected it to be great – but it was really, really difficult – and a reminder of how much easier it is for us to create a thriving life because of the environment we grow up in.
We went with a vision of what an orphanage would be like. We expected to see kids like in the movie ‘Annie’ – for the kids to look different. But they looked like kids in my neighbourhood, like my kids – not like ‘orphans’. They were so normal it was heartbreaking.
Heartbreaking, because we realized that these kids – ranging from a year old to 13 – are without their parents. Their parents are lost to them, have been taken from them, or are in jail.
Heartbreaking, because these bright kids are growing up in a system that makes it extremely difficult for them to succeed.
Heartbreaking, because we were only there for one day to play soccer, and bouncy castle, and have fun. And then we got to go home.
We are all products of our environment – and are so fortunate to be born into one that helps us to thrive. That gives us access to different types of learning, role models and opportunities and support.
It’s tough. These people don’t even have easy access to laundry soap, or clothes – to medical supplies or a dentist.
Anything we think is a challenge pales in comparison to what they have to deal with.
I’ve been on crews that support homeless people in Vancouver’s downtown east side, and helped build houses for families in Mexico. These experiences are very grounding. They remind me of what’s most important – and to be incredibly grateful for what I have.
The kicker? When you do these things, it’s fun! You couldn’t tell who was getting more out of it – the kids or us.
Remember, the giver often receives more than the receiver. That’s why these things are so powerful.