Volunteering is a Rollercoaster of Emotions

Four years ago I landed in Cambodia for the first time in my life.  Today, this has become my second home.  An extended family worth the time, dedication and all the feelings that come by.  Recently a volunteer quoted me on a saying I have been aware of since the beginning; Volunteering is a rollercoaster of emotions.

My own saying is still valid.  It doesn’t get better with time but only worse.  A love, hate relationship of a country I am still not accustomed to its culture in full and yet gives a feeling of belonging.  The sense of joy and inner peace I have here makes me return year after year.  Probably it is true that volunteering might be perceived as a selfishness for a feeling good factor – but then again all the hassle and issues confronted throughout the year wouldn’t make up for a single yearly trip.

I’ve grown too fond of these children.  Their singular actions makes them lovable.  They long for love.  They long for attention.  They’ve been through too much to handle at my age, let alone at such tender ages.  They are well cared for, yet too many to be cuddled, or to be spoiled.  They are too many to be hugged daily and kissed goodnight.  I’ve noticed few children who looked at us from a distance last year, who longed to join but preferred sheltering themselves in their own ways.  Now, I’ve seen them changed.   They know we are there to stay, though they are aware that we cannot be here physically throughout the year.

During our time here we always pamper them with a fun trip.  Usually its a trip to the pool.  This time it was a trip to an activity park where they were able to enjoy laser fights, climbing, bumping cars, indoor playground all categorised accordingly to ages.  We’ve finally managed to drain the energy out of them.  They all fell asleep on the road back to the centre.    Particular actions remain impressed.  Cramped up in four different tuk-tuks, a boy seated on me started nodding himself off.  Before he drifted off, he wrapped my hands around him, gave me a smile that would melt any heart and squeezed me tight.  He was asleep in no time.  As I did my best to hide my face, a spontaneous tear ran down my cheek, I thought he must have felt safe,  knowledgeable that a few weeks ago he was living on the streets.

The director of the centre keeps showing her gratitude towards our continuous work.  She doesn’t speak a word of English but her actions and gestures speak volumes.  We were invited to a river cruise this evening and her speech, translated to us keeps confirming her true love for all the children at the centre.  By the end we had to be offered tissues.