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Youth TALK

Huge Grace Disabled Children’s Centre, a home to children with special medical needs, is located in Fengxian, a county situated a few hours away from our lives here in Shanghai. Despite the proximity of the two locations, there is a vast difference between our lives and theirs – whereas we live amid silver Buicks and a spectacular skyline, the children at Huge Grace are bound by ageing bikes and never-ending fields of yellow-green.

Nevertheless, 16 students, two adults and I sought to brighten their lives by showering the Huge Grace orphans with one-on-one attention, a change from the usual 15-to-one child-to-caretaker ratio. Taking boxes of crayons, multi-coloured sheets of origami paper, sports equipment and angel wings, we hoped to bring life to the orphanage.

The last day we spent at Huge Grace was 'Princess Day'. As a group made up of mostly females, we understand that every little girl’s dream is to be a princess, and on this day, we sought make this dream a reality. In a room filled with angel wings, glittery hair accessories, princess-themed movies and fairy wands, we caught glimpses of cheeky and proud smiles forming on the girls’ faces; 'Princess Day' was a success.

The orphanage was predominately female, but one frail little boy confined to his chair sat quietly. Surrounded by sequins, glitter and pink, he seemed amused. This little boy, who I had been taking care of all week, mumbled that he wanted to play too. I replied that he could not go outside, but his smile did not fade. He pointed at a tiara, and the corners of his mouth turned up into a shy smirk. Later, wearing green angel wings, a silver tiara and holding a glittery wand, this little boy was having as much fun as all of the other little princesses in the room. No different from you and me, he hungered for warmth, attention and love. With those powers combined, he was able to morph into a little prince.

Many understand service to be giving to the less fortunate, but in the end, our week at Huge Grace surpassed our expectations because we realised we were not the only ones “giving” in this experience. Ultimately, we went to Huge Grace hoping to deliver joy to the children and caretakers, and they, in turn, enabled us to discover the simplicity of happiness.


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