In May, I led a team of six people to participate in an overseas humanitarian trip to Galle, Sri Lanka, for Children’s Hope. We helped to bring essentials to the underprivileged and disabled children at Neth Savan Sarana hostel, in an area where most of the children’s homes were badly hit by the tsunami in 2004. Before we left for Sri Lanka, the team collected old clothes and toys so that we could help the children as much as possible. In the afternoons, we headed to the hostel, which houses up to 60 children who have a variety of disabilities – some are blind or deaf, others have learning difficulties. Once we’d arrived, we distributed the ice creams we’d bought for the children from a nearby store. Then we immediately got down to work by giving out the 180 kilograms of donated toys, clothes and other essentials such as medical items. We also played games like frisbee, monkey’s ball and Twister with them. Moreover, each child received a Polaroid picture of themselves to keep as a souvenir. The kids, despite some of them being unable to see or hear during the games, were the most cheerful and optimistic young people I have seen. They never once showed their displeasure when some of them didn’t understand something. They taught me to step out of my comfort zone, and not to let any perceived deficiency become a real one that limits opportunities and the ability to learn; indeed, they turn these into strengths. I also learnt that we need to come out from our comfort zone in whatever we do, because the next challenge will always be uncomfortable. VOLUNTEERING IN GALLE


FACT FILE Getting there: Multiple airlines fly direct from Singapore to Colombo; from there, it’s just over two hours by car to Galle. Trivia time: Before the arrival of the Portuguese in Galle in 1502, it had already been used as a seaport by Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese. | David A Knight, PhilipYb Studio


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