What made you join ‘A Heart for China’?

Being of a greater service to the world has always been an innate desire of mine. My parents have been profoundly instrumental in this aspiration. They have inculcated in me the significance of exercising compassion and the exceptional value of selflessness.

Shenzhen has been my home and city of employment since March 2015. Despite pursuing a personal and professional goal, I wanted to maximize my time, instead of constantly enduring the cycle of a proletarian. My yearning for fulfillment that I was unable to achieve in the previous years was my motivation.  Luckily, Shenzhen Daily posted an article on “A Heart for China”.  I envisioned myself being part of their mission. I have had the interest and the predilection to aid others outside my social circle for a long time. Immediately, I contacted Mr. Ronny Verdoodt (the founder) to obtain more information and it wasn’t until three months later that I was able to attend the events.

Volunteer work doesn’t start with an organization; it starts with yourself and your surroundings. Furthermore, being a member of “A Heart for China” allows me to contribute to those who are in greater need of assistance. This experience guides me to feeling a massive connection to Shenzhen. Now, I am in a situation where I can achieve a purpose that I wished to pursue in my native country.

As a team member of “A Heart for China” and a foreigner in Shenzhen, I have gained invaluable personal and professional development; met like-minded people; gained firsthand experience with Chinese locals and cultural knowledge. I have the opportunity to serve others in a way that I wanted too for a long time; hence, making me feel more accomplished on this life voyage. Moreover, “A Heart for China” gives me a platform and the prospect to return what has been given to me by the many warm hearts in China and those I have encountered over time; thus, making my journey a life-changing one.

A Heart for China” may not save the world but with the founder and his growing team’s determination, the small yet significant gestures will contribute to a more compassionate and improved environment one step at a time. In addition, we are displaying the meaning of compassion and kindness; as well as, learning about ourselves and others and the impact of our actions.

What do you feel helping people in need?

Most people tend to experience a low point in life. A simple wave of affection or kind words can make the most prominent difference in one’s life and you may never be aware of it. Further, I have also witnessed how my simple acts of kindness influenced another’s day.

Personally, I have known people who have experienced hardships (personal, mental, financial, physical and emotional) and have witnessed some of their struggles firsthand. Having been on both ends of giving and receiving kindness, I can assure you that simple, positive acts do make a transformation.

Sharing time and affection with people who need it is an uplifting experience that no shopping spree can give me. Money cannot buy kind-heartedness. It is my belief that helping people is more of an exchange rather than volunteer work. I am able to offer a smile and kind gestures and in return I feel euphoric. Therefore, helping others helps me.

Cultural and language barriers can be a huge challenge. Nonetheless, these barriers have proven to me that showing politeness and affection to people and non-Native English speakers is easy. It can be done with a genuine smile and a hug. We all do smile in the same language.

Do you have a story to share that impressed you the most?

I attended events at the Huayang Rehabilitation Centre and Renda Benevolence Nursing home with the team. From my experience, I can say that both experiences were drastically different.

During my visit to Renda Benevolence Nursing home, both men and women showed much gratitude towards “A Heart for China”. They displayed a lot of enthusiasm, smiles and interest in the Christmas show. I was amazed because Christmas is not a Chinese festival. The majority of the elders remained in their seats for the entire show. I was even more surprised by the warmth and appreciation that I was shown. I speak “survival Chinese”; and so, I depended on the locals in the group to translate.

When the team handed out soymilk to each elder person, one woman said that she didn’t want to take it because it is paid for at the nursing home. We said that it was okay and that the soymilk was for her. Her facial expression was priceless. She was touched and gave us a huge smile while cupping our hands and saying “thank you” many times. I met another elderly who was bedridden. Though, we were unable to communicate verbally, she displayed her gratitude by clasping my hands in her hands and then stroking my face with a big smile.

Then, an 82 year old woman, who was a History teacher for over 30 years, guided us to her room. She was very excited to show off her piano skills. She played beautifully.

After the mini-music show, another elderly woman invited us into her room. At 92 years old, she was extremely jolly and full of smiles and energy. I would have never guessed that she had a surgery three years ago. She spoke about her family (6 children) and her plans for the Spring festival.

The time spent at the nursing home was enjoyable. Most of the elderly persons simply wanted a small indication of affection or a listening ear to share their happiness and passions from past accomplishments. Their actions allowed the team to learn about their backgrounds.

On the other hand, my first visit to Shenzhen Huayang Special Children Rehabilitation Center was overwhelming. I was taken aback by the laughter and smiles when the group entered the compound. While visiting the children on one of the floors, three kids pounced on me at once. Thankfully, for yoga class, I was able to hold my balance. Then, another child grabbed onto me and refused to let go. Another buried his face in my neck as though he was taking all the affection and hugs he could have gotten for the few minutes. Another child held onto my hand and caressed it without a sound and in absolute calmness.  On the third floor, the younger children were unable to leave their beds. I greeted each child. They all seemed unsure of me and gazed for several minutes before releasing a tiny smile. On leaving Huayang, my eyes teared up.

The thought of disabled and under-privileged children can be heart-wrenching. Yet, the little time spent with them tends to put into perspective how precious it is to have a healthy and functioning body; as well as, how much I do take for granted. It is a wonderful sight to see the children find amusement in simplicity. Their squeals of excitement and bright smiles makes you forget about your own personal hurdles.

From both places, I was able to walk away with more than I was able to give to any of them in two hours. The experiences are priceless and cannot be noted or read; It must be felt.

By attending events held by “A Heart for China”, I am even more aware of how blessed and fortunate I am and that it costs nothing to put a smile on someone’s face. It gives me a different and greater perspective on life, increases my self-esteem and self-awareness.  Additionally, I have been able to expand my horizons and achieve a sense of stability on my current journey.  I have met so many wonderful people with similar goals, values and priorities. 

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