HOME Volunteering
Shanghai healing home
Written by Andrew Lee | Published. 2018.07.07 15:42 | Count : 759

When you live life, sometimes you will feel cheated, you will feel that it’s unfair, and you will feel like it’s you against the world. That’s just how it is, because we often see the negatives before the positives. Just two weeks ago, I was whining about the upcoming midterms and how it was so unfair for me to have four midterms and a project due the same day. I felt cheated on, and for me personally, that day was one of the most stressful days of the entire year. That’s how it is, because more often than not, I also look at the negatives than the positives. I take it for granted that I can talk normally. I take it for granted that I can hear properlly. I take it for granted that I am born with no disabilites. But, the matter of fact is, I shouldn’t take those things for granted.And thisnotion was made clear to me when me and two other volunteers decided to volunteer for Shanghai healing home, a non-profit organization that helps raise orphans found all around Shanghai. 

[ Picture of Shanghai Healing Home from the front.  http://shanghai-healing-home.squarespace.com/ ]

The home was not big; it was rather tiny. It was a three-story house, where you could barely fit three cars in one floor. Each floor had a small toilet, accompanied by a staff room, a sleeping room, and a play room, all equal in size and dimension. And the thing was, there were 60 babies in that small space, accompanied by 10 volunteers like us, and seven permanent full-time workers that took care of each baby. When we entered the house, we were greeted by a nice young lady, who shuffled us into a tiny room. She told us that her name was Alice, and she also told us that she and her husband had been running the place for eight straight years. Their agenda was simple. “Take care of orphans, sick or healthy until they are adopted”. However, one special thing was that each baby was given full hospital care, which is rarely seen in any orphanage. She then took us on a tour around the house, and we got to meet most of the babies. We got to meet Yuan Yuan, who was the ‘miracle baby’; Yuan Yuan was born with no ears, and could not walk. But thanks to the program, he got hearing aids, and could limp along on his own two feet. I immediately liked little Yuan Yuan, and I asked Alice if we could play with the babies. She led us out of the room, and told us, "yes, you can", following it up with instructions of what to do as volunteers. It was quite simple: play with the babies, help carry them, and listen to the instructors around the house for other instructions. 

After our tour ended, we were given a badge to signify that we were official volunteers. I decided to go back up to Yuan Yuan and play with him, as luckily it was playtime, and the volunteers could play with the babies. As I met Yuan Yuan, I told him “Hi”, but I got no response. I tried to talk to him, but I soon realized that even with hearing aids, he could not hear properly. He could not speak because of his deafness, and I was surprised to find him with a cast on his entire small frame, which seemed to support his spine and legs. Little Yuan Yuan in front of me was deaf, could not talk, and could not walk properly. But as soon as I made a funny face in front of him, he laughed and gave me the car he was holding to me to play with. He got on the floor, and by his own will, limped forward, as he maneuvered his toy car around fallen castles and Barbie dolls. Soon, the whole placed filled with other volunteers playing with other babies, but Yuan Yuan didn’t mind, and we played with cars the whole time. And even though he couldn’t say a word, he somehow delivered a message to me. Through him I realized that you can’t blame your circumstances. Yuan Yuan was orphaned by his parents and had all those disabilities, but he didn’t mind. He liked to play. I felt humbled, because I was whining about projects and tests, when this young man was fighting to walk and stand. You didn’t hear him complaining. So, why should I?

[ Yuan Yuan showing me his favorite car, taken by Sungho Lee. ]

As we left the house, and got on a taxi, I thought of Yuan Yuan. I thought of Alice, and the brave wonderful things she was doing for those kids. I felt a bit ashamed because I felt selfish, and too self-centered. There was no excuse for me not to go back, when Yuan Yuan was fighting off his disabilities every day. I told myself that I will go back around September, and I told myself that I will do something to help those kids in the orphanage, not just by volunteering, but by being more actively involved. I know Yuan Yuan is waiting for me, so I can’t wait to go back.


Andrew Lee 
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Company (SMIC) Private School

Andrew Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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