Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Essay from China

We always love hearing that young people want to get involved to make a difference in the world. Recently we received the following letter from a wonderful group of school students in Shantou, China, who have formed a club to help orphaned children in their hometown. We wanted to share their words with you today because they truly touched our hearts. What a wonderful world this could be if everyone believed as they did that reaching out to children can show us the true meaning of love.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.”

I always love reading these poetic words. They are beautiful. They seem to sound right to my ears in a pleasant way. I neither understood the true meaning of it nor gave much thinking of it before my visit to the Shantou orphanage with my teacher.

Two years ago, one day before the New Year, after entering the classroom, our English teacher asked for volunteers to visit a special place to meet some lovely babies. Spontaneously, I raised my hand. On the way to where those babies stayed, I felt nervous and curious. My heart was mixed with a kind of hard-to-explain sadness and excitement. Our teacher told us, “Those babies don’t have parents. We are going there to see whether we can offer some help.”

It was the first time in my life to see so many babies at one time. Two or three babies were sitting in each of their little four-wheel-chairs. Several others were lying in their cribs. One toddler was holding onto the cribs, learning to walk while the other is crawling on the play mats. These babies were NOT cute at all for the mere look at their little faces. One tiny face was covered with tears, saliva and spilled milk. He was a cleft baby. Another tiny face looked BLUE. This baby had a heart disease. One baby was born with deformed legs and it was obviously that he could not walk if he was able to live to an older age. After asking for the permission, I held up a crying baby girl carefully in my arms and started to talk and sing to her. She then stopped crying and suddenly giggled. That was the miraculous moment when something special touched my heart. “I must do something. I want to do something to help these babies.”

“But what can I do?” Together with several other classmates, we joined a charity group in our school. Then we started the “DIAPER” program. Our work was first confined to our school campus, but later we decided to tell our parents, friends and citizens in the community about the babies. On the leaflet, we wrote: “The New Year is approaching. While we are missing our beloved living afar, we hope that we could get a diaper for our babies nearby.”

Not only were we able to raise enough funds for diapers, baby waist-wrappers, winter clothes, portable thermoses and heaters, but found many generous hearts willing to help. Students and teachers at our school surely made the first step. One parent of my classmate heard of news and donated a large box of baby shoes and baby hats from their family-run shop. At the front gate of a kindergarten, parents were urging their children to put a 10-yuan note in our box, saying, “You know? You are helping some little brothers and sisters in Shantou.” Our hearts were warmed by many of these generous people. A tricycle worker, an old doorman, a primary school girl, a grandma on her way to the market, a foreign tourist, all were willing to show their love and care to these vulnerable babies.

In a thank-you letter to Shantou students, (who donated artwork to help heal orphaned children’s hearts,) Amy Eldridge, director from Love Without Boundaries wrote, “We know that one of the greatest gifts in the world is love, and you have shown us how much you care for others, and what it means to help unselfishly.”

Different people may have different understanding of love. For most people, love means being willing to help others unselfishly and the appropriate action of showing it. Love with word, yet without deeds, is meaningless. As a vocational school student, I perhaps cannot do much GREAT deeds, but through this volunteer’s activity, I have gained a deeper understanding of love. I have learned to give off without thinking of rewards; I have learned NOT TO TAKE EVERYTHING FOR GRANTED; I have learned to give thanks; and the most important of all, I have learned to be strong.

In fact, all I have learned should be indebted to those children I visited. It is these children who teach me the true meaning of love.

On a recent visit to the orphanage, in their classroom, I experienced an unforgettable moment. When the teacher announced the time for lunch, several teens stood up, and clearly they are boys with some mental disabilities. But each of them holding a toddler’s hand, together they walked down-stairs to their room. A tiny girl, no more than 18 months, independently toddled off to her room about thirty steps away. A four-year-old girl, who has an incurable eyes disease, gave everyone a most beautiful smile when she waved good-bye.

I see the best character in these children – affectionate and hopeful, caring and strong.

A great Chinese teacher, Confucius said, “To be fond of learning is akin to knowledge. To practice with vigor is akin to benevolence. To possess the feeling of shame is akin to courage.” One student asked his master, “What is Benevolence?” “Benevolence means to help others in the way you want to be helped. It means to love others as himself.” Confucius answered.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

These are not the simple words lying in the text book, waiting to be memorized. They are the lights that shine upon our path of life. If we follow these lights faithfully, then our world will be much brighter and better.