Experience Type: Community Service/Volunteer – Not Medical/Clinical
Experience Name: X House Orphanage Volunteer
Most Meaningful: Yes
As a volunteer at the orphanage, I organized age-appropriate educational English and American Sign Language lessons for the children, assisted with daily tasks for the orphanage, and collected donated materials. I was able to organize a carnival event for the entire orphanage, full of games, face painting, and prizes for the children. However, most impactful was my visit to area orphanages for children with AIDS and accompanying the children to local clinics. The resilience of the human spirit was never more evident to me. These children suffering from AIDS did not let their illness define them. They ran around outside, playing soccer and riding bikes. The experience vividly illustrated the adage that a person is not their illness.
Why it was meaningful:
Ethiopia was the first developing nation I visited, and it left a permanent mark on my heart. Visiting X House Orphanage in Z, I could not help comparing it to the experiences of my own childhood. I was adopted at five days old; my parents brought me home directly from the hospital. In contrast, these children grew up in a poverty-stricken orphanage, hoping for families to someday adopt them. Seeing the lack of food, toys, and basic healthcare available to these children and the surrounding village stunned me. I was an orphan and they are orphans, but they were born in Z and I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Due to that random bit of luck, I have been afforded an excellent education and plentiful opportunities. Life is not fair, and it will not become fair if left alone. We must work to make it fairer. At fourteen years old, I hosted my first fundraiser and allocated funds to clean water and medical supplies for the X House community. After Ethiopia, I volunteered in Ghana the next year, Uganda in the years after, and most recently Guatemala. Because of what I experienced at X House and my subsequent volunteer trips, I will take my luck and privilege and turn myself into a resource that underserved communities could use.