“There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer. With it beats the spirit of service, generosity and compassion…and the health and well-being of our community, our country and our world.” KOBI YAMADA
I have reached a point in my life, where I want to make a difference. Some reach that point at a young age, and others, like myself, are late bloomers. On January 9th, 2009, I met a nurse and soon realized this was not a coincidence.
Barbara was my nurse during a scheduled procedure, and the moment she smiled, I felt the connection. She placed her warm hand on my arm and said, “I was in Belize last June volunteering at a clinic. I met an amazing Belizean nurse. She was a combination of Mother Theresa and Indiana Jones.” (this is a photo of nurse Judith Krieg above in her small clinic in Belize.)
Barbara and I had never met, and yet she brought up Belize, the country that changed my defiant teenager and showed my boys gratitude instead of entitlement. The country that gave us the joy of little Sergio, a four-year-old Belizean boy, whom my three sons “adopted” as their little brother and taught how to speak English and read simple words.
Only three weeks after I met Barbara, she introduced me to Carol Mikan, RN and her husband Rich, who set up a small family foundation called the World Hospital Project. When I saw photos of some of the children they helped last year, kids who otherwise wouldn’t get treated due to a lack of supplies and finances, I realized I wanted to make a difference.
This boy has a clubfoot.
Nurse Judy trained at Saddleback College in Orange County, California, and moved back to Belize where she built a home with a free clinic attached and called it “Equity House Clinic.” She, ALONE, provides medical care for 17,000 local people, and her goal is to see each one of the 8,000 kids in her area. Last year, Carol and her team treated 400 kids during their visit, based on the medical supplies and medicine they could bring.
This year we have a “wish list” for the children in Hopkins Village, a small village that Duke and I visited in 2003, when we researched where we’d like to move to in Belize.
“We’d like to bring combs, flip-flops, socks, nail clippers, small mirrors, small bags to put everything in, tubes or foil packets of Neosporin and band aids,” Carol said. “The kids use the same pair of socks daily, and their feet often get infected.”
These are ankle sores from worms
Simple things, we take for granted, can make a HUGE change in a child’s life. Carol told me about the deaf 10-year-old boy. His parents said he was born that way, and after looking into his ear, Carol’s team removed a build up of ear wax. For the first time, he was able to hear.
I don’t usually ask for help, but this time I’m going to. There are so many simple things that can change a child’s life.
As Carol says, “ANY amount is gratefully appreciated.” Just giving up one Starbucks coffee drink a week, or skipping one pizza over the entire summer and donating to World Hospital Project, makes a huge difference. All donations go 100% toward World Hospital Project’s commitment to improving medical care in Belize. All volunteers pay their own expenses and promotion, mailing and other miscellaneous expenses, come out of the Mikan’s own pocket.
I shall be volunteering for ten days in October 2009, giving back to the children in Belize Thank you for helping the kids.
Wonderful, Sonia! I predict you will gain more than you give–and that you will give a lot! I spent two weeks in successive years volunteering in New Orleans after Katrina. Giving back is a great opportunity.
Vodka Mom says
even thought the pictures made me a little QUEASY…I am in awe of you.
(Thanks for the diet boost. I have officially lost my appetite. )
Hit 40 says
I would like to help. I enjoy donating to someone directly like this. I do not like the middle man who takes his cut.
Email me an address for some money. Or, I would guess the website that you gave us??
Thats wonderful. I always appreciate it when people help children, they are the most defenseless and least able to help themselves.
Renie Burghardt says
What a wonderful post! You and Barbara were meant to meet. I agree, volunteering takes a special kind of person, who has realized it is more blessed to give than to receive, in whatever way one can give.
I will go check out the link and see if I can help my own small way.
Hugs to you! And Happy weekend!
I would love to hear more about volunteering after Katrina. That must have been a shock to see the devastation.
I'm sorry. I didn't intend for that to happen, but perhaps you will loose more than intended.
Thanks so much. I have to admit, I've also had a problem donating to large organizations where I hope the majority of the money goes for the cause, and not "administrative" costs.
Thanks for your support. This is new for me to be directly involved.
Those words, coming from you, mean a lot to me. I know you've had a tough life, before coming to the U.S.
How wonderful! I spent three years as a volunteer in China so can really say that volunteering can make a difference.
Let me know if I can help in any way!
Lady Glamis says
That is so touching and wonderful. You are amazing! I do volunteer work with my church. It truly does make a difference.
Fragrant Liar says
I think that's an awesome idea to volunteer for the health of those kids down there. We in America tend to forget how well we have it until we see pictures of those kids like that. If they were in America, we'd have them at the doctor and in surgery a few times to fix what was wrong.
Angie Ledbetter says
There truly is nothing like volunteering, and you ALWAYS get back more than you give.
If you have a donor's list, please put me on it and email me in September. I'd like to contribute (either material or money) directly to you to bring on/buy stuff for the Oct. trip.
I now understand how China must have changed how you feel about volunteering.
As I said, I'm a late bloomer, so this will be a new experience for me, which I look forward to.
I agree with you. Those kids would have surgery if they lived in America.
I am excited when I hear comments like yours as I can't wait to see the faces of these small Belizean kids. They have the best smiles, despite a tough life compared to our kids. I shall keep you on a list to contact in September, and thank you so much for your kind offer to help.
Wow! This sounds exciting. And a very important way to make a tangible difference. People can't do much unless they're healthy!
what a wonderful thing to do – best of luck to you!
In answer to your question, I am somewhat familiar with Sanibel, but havent been there since we vacationed there when I was a child. I remember it being very nice, but that was along time ago. Sorry I couldnt be more helpful!
Wonderful of you to be so generous with your time and your heart Sonia.
Dear Sonia ~~ What a great thing you are doing, congratulations and I hope you get great rewards from your efforts.
Thank you for your comments on my blog and I am so glad you enjoyed
the read and the jokes. I am so glad you got a laugh. Take care,
my friend, Love, Merle.
Jungle Mom says
So glad you will be able to go and help some of these children.
The pictures are so familiar to my part of the world. I forget it is not the norm for others.
Helping children can only bring a blessing to them and yourself as well.
Volunteering is such a great feeling. You are productive and get to really appreciate the things in your life that are special and going well. No matter how miserable any of us think that our lives are, there are people who have it much worse and it's so nice to be able to help lift them up, you end up lifting yourself up the most.
That's so great that you have gotten involved in this! I will go over and check out the donation page. Thanks for sharing this with us!
Miss Footloose says
Sonia, what a nice story. I so admire people who do this sort of work and I'm looking forward to hearing about your adventures in the fall!
I know that your posting this will help them. As many expats know, it is very difficult to see these medical problems in poor countries when you know that in many cases they would be easy to rectify.
When I lived in Armenia there was expat support for lots of causes, but one of the dramatic and cheap ones was surgery for cleft palates. The babies used to be left at orphanages because families couldn't/wouldn't take care of them. Very sad when it is basically easy to fix.
I hope that I can be of help. I look forward to seeing the kids.
I shall blog about FL. as well, in early September
Thanks Caroline. Good luck with your move to Norway.
Keep us laughing with your wonderful jokes, Merle.
You must be so familiar with what the children are like. Do they still have innocent sweet smiles?
Thanks for the positive comment. Sounds like you've done you've also volunteered.
@ Miss Footloose
You're right, it's good for all of us to see how lucky we are that our own kids get the medical attention they need.
I'm sure you'll make a helpful difference.
Can't wait to hear what's happened when you're there.
As a teacher, I so appreciate those that volunteer their time to help children. I try and volunteer as much as I can outside of the classroom, but know I need to do more.
You'll love it.
As Renie said, these coincidences happen in order to kick off something important. What you're doing is fantastic. I'm sure it gets us all thinking what we can do too, apart from making a donation.
I shall definitely write about my 10 days volunteering in Belize. Wish I could bring my laptop. Won't have much time, I assume, plus heat and humidity aren't good for computers.
In my eyes, as a teacher, you're already helping out the children. We all have at least one teacher we remember, who motivated us in one way or another.
I'm glad you pointed that out. Renie has wisdom to share with all.
I have to congratulate you for doing such an amazing work and for being such a good person. It's not important at what time of your life you start doing things, the important thing is that you want to do it and that you do it with all your heart.
I do think we can make a difference, by giving up small and unnecessary things like a starbucks drink or something similar. I don't have starbucks in my country, but you get the idea 🙂
You're wonderful. You should know that 🙂
Wow! Good on you, giving back. I think if we all just took a few days a year to do that, imagine the changes we could make!
BTW, awhile back you were looking for the entry, Red. I wanted to let you know that Red is now up on the Color Thesaurus!