Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living Tree

For the final three days of our trip we worked at the Living Tree Orphanage in Yanjiao. This special needs facility is broken up into three groups based on age & ability. The majority of the 35 children suffer from cerebral palsy. On day one the director, Tina began with an orientation and tour before giving us our assignments.
First stop was Love Home where we found a rambunctious group kids between 4-10 with the most mobile & cognitive abilities. Next was Peace Home which homes twelve babies & toddlers. Finally, Joy Home where Mom & I would eventually be assigned, housed 10 children between ages 4 – 16 who were considered the most severe needs. I will admit at first I was disappointed I was hoping for the Love Home but, I knew if I was going to get the most from this experience I needed to be open minded.

For the next two days we worked full time feeding, cleaning, engaging, massaging & and lots of physical therapy. At first I was uneasy being so far out of my comfort zone. But, the kids were completely unaware of my apprehension & inexperience. They were simply happy to be acknowledged. We quickly learned the ropes and began to understand their different personalities and the compelling stories of how they came to be at Living Tree.
As our time at Living Tree came to a close I learned that my first cautious reaction was well worth overcoming. Before Yanjiao I would have likely avoided similar situations but now CP has a human face. I learned to look at these children with compassion rather than pity. I do hope to return someday with my own kids. It is important for young people to help others less fortunate than themselves. I want them to see it does not take super-human qualities only a change in attitude.

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