Good Morning! :-)
So like usual, I'm very late in keeping new posts coming on my blog. I always have plenty of excuses (moving to new continents, having a new baby, etc.), and although it's all true, it's really just life and time flying by me too fast. When I finally do take the time to post, I usually think, "oh well, it was so long ago, it does not make any sense to do it now." But this time, it's different. What I want to share with you today is more important than keeping up to date on emails, catching up on chores for work, or chasing after my little ones to make sure they have brushed their teeth. ;-)
Last weekend, I went to Batam, Indonesia.
If you are living outside Southeast Asia, chances are you have never heard of that place. Batam is a little Indonesian island quite close to the coast of Singapore (45-minute boat ride). If you are living in Singapore, you may think of Batam as a place for a weekend retreat and fun on the beach.
I, however, went there for a different and amazing reason: an Orphanage Outreach Day Trip. It was not my first time to visit an orphanage (I have had the chance to visit orphanages in the past in Africa as well), but it is always such a meaningful and overwhelming experience. What is so mind-blowing is the contrast between the life conditions and the genuine happiness of the kids. Although very young, they have already suffered more losses and heartbreak than most of us can imagine, from personal tragedies to the fallout of the recent tsunami. One girl was abandoned by her parents, possibly because she is living with a physical handicap. Another was a little boy who has endeared himself to everyone who visits in spite of mental and physical handicaps after a premature birth. These children still live in precarious conditions, but they know how to recognize happiness. The most striking thing you note when you go to this orphanage is not the poverty—although it's there, too— but rather, you notice the love, both among the children and from the caretakers.
I spent my time there mostly playing with the kids (they thought that my camera was a pretty awesome toy!!), and whatever I may have brought to them, I received so much more in return. I will always remember a little boy sitting on my lap and putting my arms around him for a much-needed cuddle. That was enough to make the trip worth it for me.
I want to share with you their smiles.
Below, you will find the pictures, but also information on how you can help them if you wish to do so.
** Practical Information **
The Orphanage was founded in 2005, and right now counts 42 children and 4 helpers.
A small donation in kind or in cash can be made via volunteers (Sophie Leneveu, firstname.lastname@example.org, organizes an outreach there every 2-3 months), who will use it to purchase basic supplies on the day of the group visit. You could also arrange to visit in person as I did. Larger donations or special projects should be coordinated directly will the Orphanage Fund. The Betesda Orphanage is run by Bishop Zebua of the BAHTERA MISI FOUNDATION (Yayasan Bahtera Misi) in Batam. To liase directly with him, call +62 812 7045. FYI, he uses the app Tango for free calls. You could also email him at email@example.com
Currently, the orphanage is appealing for donations to assist with school fees and its reconstruction project (following a fire last year that destroyed the second floor children’s rooms). They aim to complete the new building by October this year, subject to funding.