Location: Beijing, China
Morning time… At 7:00am, we all sleepily got out of bed, still adjusting to the time difference. The two chefs of the day, Nicholas and Sarah, cooked a hearty breakfast for a long day ahead of us, scrambled eggs with the option of oatmeal, cereal or fruit as an accompaniment. We packed our backpacks, filled with cameras, waters and games for the kids we would meet that day. We walked to the neighboring community, which housed a few physically disabled children, living as a family. Group Home Experience As we entered their apartment, all of the children ranging from three-years-old to around fourteen-years-old were all eager to get to know us. Although most of us had difficulties concerning communication, we were still able to enjoy quality time with the kids. Some of the more sporty kids wanted to go outside, while the more artsy kids decided to stay inside, so we divided ourselves to enjoy spending time with them in different surroundings. Inside, we had many options to chose from, ranging from face painting to drawing in color books to playing with our cameras. Outside, kids could either jump rope, play ball, do magic tricks, or enjoy the weather outside. >Yaya’s Personal Experience at the Group Home… When I entered the living room, I noticed all the kids sitting on the couch wait for our arrival with a smile on their faces. When we divided our selves up, I chose to start off inside doing arts and crafts with some of the children who stayed inside. I immediately met a little girl, around the age of five who was only able to speak Chinese, but had the brightest and most expressive facial expressions, which made us connect immediately. We brought out crayons and paper, and sat on the carpet drawing pictures of flower, hearts and smiley faces. As the day continued, I made my way outside, and found myself interacting with older kids playing sports. I found myself connecting with the children, and finding things to laugh and smile about, even while not knowing the language. Sheindel’s Personal Experience at the Group Home… I was very excited to see the kids in those group homes, and when I entered the room with the rest of our group, I was overly joyed to see the smiles on each and every one of the children’s faces. They were all so amazed to see all the goodies and games we brought for them to play with that they ran up to that bag and started unpacking for us. As Yaya mentioned, we divided ourselves up and I decided to mainly stay inside with the more artsy kids, where I had a great time with them. Two girls came up to me, and they wanted to paint my face with the face paint. I really enjoyed the smiles expressed on their faces as they drew beautiful works of art on my face. After that, one of the girls wanted me to draw some animals and people for her, which she really liked. After that, she took a wipe and in the most adorable way took off the face paint she put before on me, cleaning her “canvas”, and began to start another work of art. As a professional, she washed her brushes that she planned on using and applied the face paint on my face in the most steady and careful way. Later, I enjoyed being taken photos by the young girl Yaya mentioned. As I took out my camera to take photos with the kids, a young boy around the age of three wanted to play with the camera. However, it took him a while to use it, but he still really enjoyed using it and he took some very cute pictures too. The kids seemed to have such a great time, and I really enjoyed spending time with them. After that… >We later went back to the headquarters and ate a delicious lunch made by our chefs of the day. We ate spaghetti, tomato sauce and some leftovers from the previous meals before. After that, we went to get our money and left to the grocery store, where we all bought some very tasty goodies. We headed for RoundAbout after going to the grocery store. RoundAbout is a charity organization devoted to supporting organizations such as Little Flower. They take all the donations meant to go to charities, sort through them, and sell the unneeded items. That money from those unneeded items goes directly to the various charities in China along with the necessary donations for those charities as well. At the RoundAbout… Upon arrival, we were immediately introduced by a lady who taught us about the system of sorting through the donations and finding out what should be sold and what should be immediately donated to the charities. She gave us two different categories to sort: books and games. In the books sorting sections, we were told to organize the placement of the large variety of books. At the games sorting sections, we were supposed to make sure that all the pieces of each game were present, and if a piece was missing, we were told to write it on the label so then the buyer was aware of what they were purchasing. By the end of the day… We ate food from our chef who specially cooked us some chicken legs and wings for dinner. The mood was very light and quite joyful, and we even exchanged much laughter. Following dinner, we had our very first Lifeworks Forum, which is where we discuss the essence of community service, and what we believe are the components of it. Today was a long, but extremely astounding day and we hope to have many more days like this one! Looking forward to the days to come! Editor’s note: The Little Flower group home has asked that we refrain from publishing photos that could compromise the privacy of the children we met this morning – thank you for your understanding!