Last year in September, I received an email from Siew Mei, the Executive Director of Christian Action, asking me to come back to serve in Qinghai. At first I was little bit hesitant to return, since I had a great job and have tried to put my past behind me. But in the end, after talking to my parents, I decided to come back to serve in Qinghai.
Before my 6 months of service in Qinghai I was first trained in Hong Kong. I visited other organizations partnering with Christian Action and other programs that Christian Action offered to the community. I took nursing classes to brush up on the First Aid and CPR, and learned how to care for the people with disabilities. During my first event in Hong Kong, I shared my personal story with a group of strangers. On that first sharing I didn’t feel any pressure; I just thought that it was great that there were people who wanted to hear my story. But thinking back on it now, I didn’t put any feeling into my presentation at all. The joy of being in Hong Kong had overwhelmed me and I didn’t think or feel much at the time.
During my time in Qinghai, I helped out at the Xining Children’s Home and Social Welfare Institute. I was amazed to see how much the children’s home had changed over the past 10 years. It was decorated with colorful drawings, the food had greatly improved, and it really gave the sense that the children were living in a home environment. The Children’s Rehab Center had also opened doors to the community, to help families with children born with disabilities. I was placed there to help out with rehab for the children from the community and the Xining Children’s Home, and I connected with the children by telling them stories about my life in America.
The Social Welfare Institute is for elderly members with mental and physical disabilities, and the children who outgrew the Xining Children’s Home upon turning 18. 3 years ago Christian Action started the Bridging Program at the Social Welfare Institute for young adults transitioning into the center. During that 6 month period I had the opportunity to spend time with them, and reconnected with these young adults as I assisted in their rehabilitation. While getting to know them I learned about their worries, their dreams, their hobbies, their favorite food and music. I think that my being there, playing with them, taking them out on field trips, gave them hope for the future. There is still a lot of work to do, to help these children achieve their dreams.
Everything changed when I arrived in Qinghai. One day, I took a road that I had once walked on when I was younger and was flooded with childhood memories of my surroundings, like the school I used to go to, and the apartment I used to live in. Tears started running from my eyes, and I couldn’t believe how the memories that I wanted to forget so badly came back to me.
The toughest part of this trip was recalling all the memories that I thought I had left behind, and the regret of trying to forget it all. Childhood memories of my father, whose voice I had almost forgotten, of the good times at the children’s home with my brothers and sisters, and many other things.
Throughout this experience, there were tears and laughter, but most of all, I found myself learning to treasure what I have now, striving to improve myself, and am inspired to reach for my dream.