When I applied for the China Care volunteer program, I had a very specific idea of what the home would be like. I pictured somewhat poor conditions, rooms that weren’t very clean, and children who swarmed volunteers as soon as the students arrived because the staff just wasn’t extensive enough to give each child the care he or she needed. Everyone in the States hears horror stories about children placed in orphanages with subpar conditions, and my idea of the China Care home was based on these reports. However, after I spent a day volunteering, I realized that this common stereotype from the States in no way applies to the China Care home.
Upon arrival, you immediately notice the state-of -the-art conditions of each room and the care that is given to keep the home clean and tidy. Slippers that are worn only in the home immediately replace shoes that have been worn on the street, and everyone is required to thoroughly wash and dry their hands. But the most surprising part of the day was my experience in the room with the children.
I volunteered for over 4 hours on my first day, and often times I found myself sitting on the floor alone, quite the opposite of being constantly swarmed by children. I was somewhat sad at first because I thought that perhaps the children just didn’t enjoy playing with me or that I was not great with kids. Then I realized that finding myself unneeded in a room full of children could only mean that each child had all the care and attention that he or she could possibly need. Yes, the kids enjoy playing with the volunteers, and they are sad to see us go. But the reality is that every child here has everything they need.
So when I leave the home and return to the States, I will be sad because I will certainly miss the children. But it’s comforting to know that my presence won’t be too sorely missed, because these children are happy to be here, surrounded by people that love them.
Emory University Class of 2013