By Damien James, an EO Australia-Victoria member and CEO of Aged Foot Care
Mum had a goal to put a bit more meaning back into our family Christmas and so last year, she arranged for us all to head off to volunteer at an orphanage in Cambodia called New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC).
She sent through quite a few emails about the trip with attachments and plenty of detail. I must admit I didn’t read the details, which is pretty typical for me; I quickly scanned them for key information and thought little more of it until it was time for mum, dad and my two brothers to head off.
On arriving in Cambodia, we were picked up by a staff member from the orphanage who briefed us on our week ahead. The orphanage was one that cared for children living with HIV/AIDS, and one of the children, a 12 year-old named Dara, was dying and they didn’t think she would make it to Christmas.
The reality dawned on me as we arrived and I realised where we were and what was ahead. I spent the first hour wondering how I got there. All I could think about was that this was going to be really heavy, a really difficult week. I didn’t know how I would react walking in to help a 12 year-old who was dying.
Then I met the kids and all of those thoughts evaporated. Those 241 orphans had no family and very little prospect of a future but they were incredibly happy.