Thursday, September 06, 2007

EcoVillage of Hope: My volunteer experience at an Orphanage in China

During my time in Hong Kong, I decided to volunteer at the Taishan Orphanage in China through a non-profit organization in Calgary called the EcoVillage of Hope. I thought I’d get sick of Hong Kong and while I was in still in Japan, I had a vision to volunteer at an orphanage. Coincidence has it, I told Liz and she told me how she met two women from Calgary during her trip in China and how they were planning to start a non-profit organization in China and it involved work at an orphanage. Well, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In between spending time with my family in Hong Kong, I would go up to Taishan by bus to help get the orphanage project started.

The project is quite complicated but I’m going to explain it as best I can. The first part of it is to help build sustainability in a village called Nam On. From Nam On, we hired some women to work as caretakers of the children in the Taishan Orphanage. This is a method of providing the women with an income. Further, we’re going to look at the methods of cultivation in place and see how we can help the village build sustainability. Here I have to add that I learned that peanuts grow from the ground and not on trees. I pulled some up myself! Also, volunteers who come from abroad like myself got to live in a house in Nam On village and the organization paid for the rent, which is another method of income for the villagers. A woman from the village also cooked our meals.
There is a whole lot more to the project such as helping the government to build tourism in Nam On and North Mountain (where I went white water rafting!) Also, the organization is looking to build an orphanage in Nam On Village. In October, a director from Canada will be filming a documentary of the area too. There is much to be done and after this project is done, the hope is to move into more remote areas of China to help build sustainability there as well.

I wish that I had more time to spend in Taishan because a lot of help is needed. Also, it was kind of a shock to me when I saw the children in the orphanage. I hadn’t expected them to be physically or mentally handicapped. Also, there was only 1 caretaker to 14 children, 3 of them which were only months old. But once we got the women in, we changed the whole place. On the first day, there was no color in the room, no smiles, no laughter, and barely any movement. By the time I left, the kids were laughing and playing with one another and showing more emotion. The disabled children were responding to our touch and were able to move a little bit on their own. It left a very good feeling.
However, I felt uneasy when I left because the 3 new volunteers did not even last 3 days. I think the culture shock was too much for them having to live in a village were the bathing water sometimes comes out yellow and working with children with disabilities and ugly heat rashes all over their bodies. Honestly though, if you have the heart to help, you can get through anything.

Anyways, I really hope that this organization can find the people that it needs. I would go back in a flash if I weren’t so broke at the moment. If you or know someone who would be interested in this, please get into contact with me and I will get you in touch with the right people.



At 4:05 PM, Blogger cyclichx said...

i never knew you had such a caring and generous side..

At 9:21 AM, Blogger toshiakiseko said...

Seeing is believing.
i've been to China but i didn't know what you write about.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Nithya said...

i miss your posts! blog more!

At 7:45 PM, Blogger 可茹 said...

hi, i came across your blog while searching for volunteer opportunities online, i'm REALLY interested in the Taishan Orphanage, sounds amazing, could you give me an email at


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