Bringing smiles, hopes to orphans


Dear children, don’t ever lose sight of your hopes and dreams, no matter how bleak your future seems. Hold on to even the slightest hope for a better tomorrow, as that is what keeps us going each day, no matter how tough life gets. Please continue to be strong and brave in facing life’s battles, as happiness at times is just a step away


 

|     Nicole Kay     |

At the age of 11, everything changed for me when I discovered that I was adopted. My perspective of life changed too. I began to appreciate the things in life even more and I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Things may turn out bad or not according to how we want them to be, but at the end of the day, I know that certain things are meant to be blessings in disguise.

From that young age, I have been a very caring child, always willing to reach out to help others without wanting anything in return. It was just with a pure and sincere heart, no motive whatsoever.

My foster parents have also been my main concern and priority. To this day, I’m thankful that my foster mom adopted me, given that her decision is the reason why I have a life to live.

Looking at pictures of orphans and reading articles on unwanted babies being abandoned and left for dead just send shivers down my spine. That could have been me!

Since then, one of my wishes was to visit an orphanage, and I have been searching for a non-government funded one for years. It was only last year that I managed to find an orphanage run by a non-profit body which solely depends on public contributions.

This orphanage is only a few hours’ drive from Brunei and I started contacting the relevant caretakers regarding the number of orphans along with their names and ages.

Last December, my task was to present gifts to all the orphans according to their age and gender. Together with my husband and two boys, we spent half a day at a shopping complex to shop for 17 gifts, and have them wrapped up.

Next thing to do was to write gift cards specially addressed to each orphan, to let them know that they will never be alone and that there are many kind souls out there who truly care for them.

The next day, we drove up to the orphanage. I was really nervous as I do not know what to expect when meeting with the 17 children.

They are of various ages; the youngest of them is a six-year-old girl who tugged at my heartstrings. She’s of the same age as my third child. It was one of the most memorable trips with an unforgettable experience that my boys will never forget.

Upon reaching the orphanage, we saw some of the orphans playing on the grass near the clothesline.

Below the building is an open space, where a few children were doing revisions with the help of a volunteer who tutors them every day. There were also a few older orphans who were helping a volunteer to prepare for the next meal.

We got out of the car with all the presents in our hands. All of the children excitedly and nervously walked to us and we started distributing the presents to each and every one of them. Their happy smiles warmed our hearts.

We also managed to talk to the caretakers regarding the orphanage. Every child has a story and is fighting a battle of  his or her own – how they ended up as orphans breaks my heart. I was close to tears, lost for words and choked with emotions.

Some of the orphans have a sibling with them and came from a squatter colony. One of them was sent to the orphanage because the parents died in a car accident. Most of them are placed there as they come from single parents and broken families who aren’t able to raise them well due to financial difficulties.

Looking at the orphans talking and playing with one another, I felt the urge to hug each and every one of them. Every child deserves to be loved and cared for despite his or her background, colour or race. These are the children who are saved from poverty. Sadly, there are so many others out there that the orphanage couldn’t take in any more due to lack of funds and limited number of volunteers and caretakers.

The orphanage solely depends on public contributions to help the children. All the hard work and dedication by the caretakers and volunteers are truly amazing. Some caretakers even left home to stay at the orphanage and look after the orphans. Without these loving people and their help and guidance, where would the children be? What fate would they face? I dare not to think further.

At the orphanage, all the children are taught to be independent regardless of their age. They’ve got a schedule that they all abide by. Eating, playing, studying and sleeping times are all scheduled.

They will do certain tasks each day to help one another and maintain the place. The older children will also look after the younger ones. They are given tasks such as sweeping the floor, clearing the rubbish, hanging the clothes, sorting out books in racks and helping to prepare meals.

These are lifelong skills taught in them so that they will be able to survive by the time they leave the orphanage, since they can only stay there until they turn 18 years old. Once they reach that age, that’s when they will go out to either get jobs or continue their studies, along with finding a place to live.

While talking to the caretakers, we were told that their kitchen was running out of food. We decided to shop more and bought food for the children.

Many children these days are fussy eaters, but in the orphanage the children have no choice as to what food they want or get to eat. They know what’s it like to be hungry and starving for food. They can’t even afford to be choosy and are more than happy to have any food that fills their tummies.

When it was time to say goodbye, we were all deep in our thoughts and left the orphanage with a heavy heart.

Dear children, don’t ever lose sight of your hopes and dreams, no matter how bleak your future seems. Hold on to even the slightest hope for a better tomorrow, as that is what keeps us going each day, no matter how tough life gets. Please continue to be strong and brave in facing life’s battles, as happiness at times is just a step away.

Every one of us is born into this world not knowing our fate. Nor do we know what the future holds for any of us. In my eyes, as long as we’ve got the chance to live and breathe another day, there will always be an opportunity to make a difference.