The children and staff in our programs look forward to every team arriving. They bring new activities, new songs, plays and dramas. So teams impact the lives of the children, staff and child carers too!
It’s October and despite there not originally have been a plan for a Heart for Kids team this month, seven volunteers stepped forward so they and their team leader arrived in China a week ago as Team 58! Everyone arrived safely and the one bag delayed en route was reunited with its owner within 48 hours.
A couple of the team members have returned for a second trip within a year but the others are first time Heart for Kids mercy team volunteers. With the exception of the English team leader, the team are from the southern hemisphere: Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, and a number of them speak very good Chinese, which is a real blessing!
Heart for Kids mercy teams are very much ‘come, see and do’, with a strong emphasis on the ‘do’, so the team got down to planning and preparing activity programmes for many of the venues they’d visit.
The first venue the team visited, however, was Doves Wings Foster Home where the children quickly accepted the new visitors and the love, affection, cuddles and fun that was poured out on them. For returning team members it was a great time of re-establishing relationships with the children whilst also sparing a thought for those who were no longer there having been adopted into Forever Families in the meantime. Two further visits followed during the week.
This first week saw the team in a Training Centre for teenagers learning life skills to live independently. The teenagers received the team with enthusiasm and excitement and had a great time singing songs, playing games watching a skit and doing craft. One of the team commented how, “gentle, patient and caring the teacher was with an autistic boy who had only recently arrived in the centre”.
The team spent the next day in a Welfare Centre with a group in their mid-teens to mid-thirties. Our teams visit this venue regularly and they quickly struck up conversations with the group and provided a day filled with indoor and outdoor games, craft, stories and songs. This group pride themselves in creating and performing dance routines. The team were treated to the latest routine which they then had the chance to learn!
An unexpected change to the schedule meant an opportunity opened to spend an afternoon at a Junior school in a rural village. With the assistance of some regular volunteers, the team delivered a programme with the Heart for Kids flavour – a mixture of stories incorporating English practice, art and craft, and games. The afternoon finished with all 80 children playing balloon relay races together on the playground, much to the bemusement of their waiting relatives!
Come Saturday the team were supporting an English lesson for migrant workers children and they supplemented this learning with songs, stories and craft, with games thrown in for good measure. One of the regular students was really disappointed one of our recent regular team members was missing!
It captured our hearts to see how delighted this little girl was to show her mum the craft she’d made with the team.
Heart For Kids Team 57 descended upon China late last week with team members arriving from Australia, the U.K., Germany and the U.S. After focusing Sunday’s efforts on a full programme of activities for all the venues, the team hit the ground running.
Returning team members shared their excitement at seeing how the kids in Doves Wings, the Heart For Kids foster home, have progressed since previous visits. In fact, one team member said, “Year after year, we are seeing progress in the children in all venues. You can tell that significant time has been invested in the children’s lives.”
Team 57 has a strong youth component, with 6 of the 13 team members being teenagers. This created a strong peer-to-peer connection opportunity with university students whose education is supported by Heart For Kids. These students from across the world shared with each other about their plans for the future, the life journey they have travelled thus far, and what they like to do for fun.
The team also spent significant time caring for babies and children in the orphanage. Just being able to love the children and give them one-on-one attention was a highlight. Teams witness the babies’ facial expressions immediately change as they are loved. One team member shared, “Holding babies in the orphanage was a thrilling experience. I feel really hopeful about coming back.”
The team spent Wednesday at a welfare centre with older kids, many of whom were excited to recognize returning team members. Through time spent in fun games outdoors, caring touch through hand massages, and crafts to encourage creativity, across the board the team made many friends and poured into the kids’ lives. We were struck by the family atmosphere in this centre and we found that the kids there served us even though we’re here to serve them.
With such a large team, additional serving opportunities opened up for these Heart For Kids volunteers. Returning after a few years break was time spent supporting an organisation that provides life-skill training for older teens and adults with challenges. The team felt much joy in being a part of helping these kids reach their potential and move towards a future of more independent living.
Now near the half-way point of the team’s time in serving, team members have already shared that they feel like their time serving was an empowering, life-changing experience.
Heart for Kids Team 56 completed their arrival in China at the end of last week with some having experienced disruption from missed flight connections and a missing bag (which, thankfully, arrived 24 hours later). The team comprises volunteers from the USA, Australia and the UK, with four being first-timers, and is now at the mid-point of their trip. Their commitment is to recognise that every person, regardless of their colour, race, or ability is created in their Father’s image and has value and purpose.
After planning and preparing an activity programme for some venues on Sunday, the team arrived in Doves Wings foster home bright and early on Monday morning. There have been a number of changes in Doves Wings since Team 55 came through and not least among these has been the adoption of six children into forever families. It took some time for the children to become accustomed to the new faces but by the end of the day there was laughter and cuddles galore! Come Tuesday the team were to be found visiting an orphanage in the city. Children face greater competition for attention here so they really benefit from the additional love, care and attention a visiting team brings. The day was spent playing, singing, cuddling, feeding the little ones and encouraging the ayi’s (child carers) who are typically stretched to meet every child’s needs.
“I felt I could be myself, but I also felt a sense of peace, love and fulfillment there.”
“It’s amazing how we came together as a group of completely different people from different stages of life and different countries, yet we were God’s perfect combination of the right gifts and skills.”
“I’m thankful for this team and the opportunity with Heart for Kids because it gave me the chance to see the power of love up close.”
“It was such a privilege to interact with the families helping the orphans, and their generosity was inspiring.”
“It was amazing to be there when two new children arrived at Dove’s Wings from the orphanage – what a gift to snuggle a child that was just plucked out of a crib and help them feel safe. The feeling is indescribable.”
“Kids are transformed by even small gestures of kindness and the impact on their lives is stunning.”
“To me, missions always came across as people or groups of people who had a long and extensive background in Theology and had all the answers about everything, but now I would say it can be done by anyone with a caring or serving heart.”
“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet some of the needs, love on, snuggle, feed, smile at and pray for the babies while I was there.”
“My life won’t be the same when I go home, and I believe these kids will be forever changed as well.”
These quotes could be your experiences in 2019. Click the link below to learn more.
Helping kids re-write life stories and turn around futures
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