My Volunteer Journey with OHF
By Felise Lee (Child Sponsor)
My first volunteering trip with Operation Hope Foundation traced all the way back to September 2010, together with my friends and 6 other individuals, we embarked on a journey to Hope Village Prey Veng (HVPV) in Cambodia. On that trip, we learned the art of making soaps for the distribution to the surrounding villages. Apart from that, some of our community outreach works consisted of building water wells and interacting with the villagers. Back at HVPV, we painted 2 classrooms, learned how to communicate with the children by playing games and guided the children with art and craft.
Above: soap making, well drilling, painting HVPV and with HVPV children
After my 1st experience with OHF outreach, I then decided to lead a small team of 7 members in August 2014 to the OHF Thailand project. 2 of the team members, Irene and Qixian, were with me in the 2010 Cambodia Team while it was the first mission trip for the other 4 members (Joyce, Eddy, Angeline and Justin). This time it was a mission to Hope Legacy Village Thailand (HLVT). The team decided to take up a critical project whereby the team had to build parameter fencing and gates around the orphanage. This is to safe guard the welfare of the children from falling into the open river just behind the home. Through the team initiatives of fundraising and from their network of friends, we were able to also help repaint the main gate and walls of the home, wash and paint a block of wall between the children’s dormitories.
Above: building the fence and painting the main gate for HLVT
The children were simply amazing. We were able to witness the children worship God with beautiful songs and praying unto the Lord for blessing them with their meals. They possess great discipline as they are taught to wash their own clothing and do area cleaning whilst the older children teach and guide the younger children on how to do the same chores. With the amazing experience at HLVT, and before the team left for home, several team members decided to commit themselves in fostering the children through monthly sponsorships. Since I started my volunteering stint back in 2008, and after engaging on various trips with different organizations, I too have decided to take up child sponsorship with OHF during my 5th volunteer trip.
Above: HLVT children singing worship songs, colouring, with all the children
Talking of my own sponsorship, my sponsored child Ratanakorn Saewang, who is 6 years old now, is one cheerful and adorable girl. In my recent volunteer trip, I was committed to go and visit her in conjunction with her 6th birthday earlier this year. We celebrated her birthday with a birthday cake and some presents. Although it was only a short trip (3 days and 2 nights), a good friend of mine, Serene, was on this trip with me. She too has sponsored a boy, Yohan, from HLVT.
Above: Felise with Ratanakorn and Serene with Yohan
Even though it was short notice to our friends of our visit to HLVT, we Praise the Lord for blessing us in our fundraising efforts for the children’s well-being. We received cash donations from friends, colleagues and our bosses so that we are able to buy uniforms, school bags, school shoes and many other necessities for the children. We had a very fruitful time teaching the children simple English words, coloring and the joy of playing games with all of them.
From my experience of all the volunteer trips with OHF, OHF as an organization has a very clear mission, with the conviction to “Give with a Passion” to the under-privileged children. Their local staffs are committed to understanding the local needs, by researching the best methods in caring for the children. This passion is followed by well-planned systems in place in charting the itineraries and projection of cost evaluation, where volunteers only need to decide on the dates for the mission. This is so practical and effective for volunteers like us.
Although it appears that language can be a barrier especially when communicating with the children, the most important and fundamental is our sincerity of our actions towards the children, which I personally feel speaks louder than words. The care and concern that is expressed from the heart is the universal language that the children would understand, that is, LOVE. I know deep in my heart that the children will feel comforted and appreciative of what we give unto them.
My volunteer journey with OHF started from Cambodia to Thailand to committing to a child sponsorship. As an active volunteer and child sponsor now, my mission is to spread the love and help to improve the well-being of these children by making a difference in whatever ways I can. I thank God for the many opportunities and thank OHF for allowing me to share my experience.