AY1718 CAS Trip to Huazhou
by Ow Grace (DP1B) and Yun Sol Bin (DP1A
From March 8 to 15, our DP1 cohort went on our CAS trip to Huazhou, partnering with Onesky to help the Social Welfare Institute, which took care of children with mental and physical disabilities.
From the moment we had arrived in the Institute, we had warmed up to the children immediately. Despite the differences in language, background and culture, our willingness to serve and connect with the children enabled us to get along with them easily. The activities that we had planned for them were not suitable for them to do and we had to improvise and come up with games and crafts for them to complete. Through this planning process, we have not only learnt to adapt to different situations but realised that it is not what we did with the children, but the time we spent with them that mattered the most.
In addition, we also brought children out during the weekends. This involved a trip to the supermarket, where we pointed out different food ingredients to the children, and allowed them to pick out one or two items for themselves. Many of them had not been in a shopping mall before, and were excited by simple moments such as standing on travelators and pushing trolleys in the supermarket. This was followed by a simple lunch at a Vegetarian buffet, after which the children watched an animated movie, taking delight in the simple animations and antics of the characters.
The next day, we brought the children out to the Agricultural Park. The children enjoyed looking at different flowers and plants that were beautifully displayed at the greenhouses, and had fun playing at the playground, along with the bubble sticks that we had bought them. After taking lunch, we went to the berry farms to pick berries that were currently in season. It was a new experience for us, as we lived in Hong Kong, and had never gone into a fruit farm before. These excursions had broadened the children’s horizons and allowed them to gain new experiences that they would not encounter from their life in the Institute.
Besides that, we cooked and ate with the simulation family units in the Institute. The Social Welfare Institute puts children in a family environment with other children and foster parents until they are ready for adoption, as the love and attention received from a family enriches and accelerates the children’s development. We would cook and wash alongside many of the foster mums, and our lack of experience and skill made us more of a hindrance than a help. Nevertheless, it was a meaningful learning experience, and there were many cultural exchanges, such as the making of Korean sushi during one of the lunches. We were also treated as part of the family, and could partake in both the food and the care in the different family units, as smiles and laughter filled the air during every single mealtime.
On the final day, we had a farewell party, where we decorated the hall of the Institute and prepared various party snacks for the children, as well as having different singing and dancing performances for them, and getting the children to perform the dance that we had taught them at the end as a triumphant finale. We had also presented the donation products we had bought for them, and it was heartwarming to see the small impact we had on some of the children’s lives. Tears were shed and embraces were exchanged as we bade tearful farewells to the children, along with our promises to keep in touch.
Through this trip, we had all gained a lot, from life skills to planning to the knowledge of taking care of children. However, the biggest personal takeaway for our group was the perspective on service, of how in many ways they had helped us more than the other way around, and the realisation of how limited our efforts are, but also the necessity of our contributions to make a difference in the lives of these children.