[Community-service] Service abroad

Greg Aikens gpaikens at gmail.com
Wed Feb 16 18:48:16 UTC 2011

Hi Darian and all,
I have spent time doing service overseas.  In 2007 I spent 3 weeks in South Africa working with children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS and in 2009 I spent a month in central Asia volunteering at an orphanage for children with disabilities.  .  I could write for days and days about my experiences so I'll try and be brief.  

With the AIDS orphans I worked with a team of 17 other college students.  We did after school activities in some rural villages in coordination with a feeding program.  We  threw a birthday party for some of the kids at highest risk to give them one on one attention.  They also asked us to paint one of the village buildings used to house new orphans untila permenant home could be found for them in the village.  This was an amazing experience.  The children were incredibly loving and willing to connect with us even though we couldn't speak setswana.  I had no problem engaging with the children and had a great team that was always making sure I found a way to participate and serve.  

At the orphanage for children with disabilities I travelled there by myself and worked with one american woman and her staff, some of whom spoke english.  I helped the staff with  physical therapy, water therapy, music therapy, and worked one on one with a blind student.  I was also able to do some staff awareness about blindness.  I visited the school for the blind but since it was summer, there were no children there.  The director of the school talked to me for a long time about the kinds of things they teach.  I also had the opportunity to meet with the head of the society for the blind.  He told me about the government support programs for blind people and how the government has taken away many jobs that used to be available exclusively to blind people.  
This second trip was certainly a life changing experience.  I know we can complain about the ignorance of sighted people here in the U.S., and with good reason sometimes.  we have it so much better than we know.  Over there, disability has a strong stigma.  Children with disabilities are abandoned because of this stigma and many end up in orphanages like the one I volunteered at.  These experiences really changed my perspective and eventually led me to want to work overseas with blind people as a career.  

I tried to keep it short.  Thanks for reading.  Please ask any questions.  


On Feb 14, 2011, at 1:17 PM, Darian Smith wrote:

> Greetings all,
>  has anyone ever done  community service abroad?  what was your
> expirience with it, where did you go?
>  Thanks,
>  Darian
> -- 
> Darian Smith
> Skype: The_Blind_Truth
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