Spotlight on Service: the Grace Care Center
As recounted by Tamara Shan
This past summer I, along with a group of girls from Ann Arbor Michigan, had the opportunity to travel to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka to volunteer at Grace Care Center. “Grace” is a girls’ orphanage established 12 years ago to provide food, shelter, and hope to 35 girls. Many of these children are victims of poverty, war and a devastating a Tsunami.
Our primary goal was to help the children emotionally, provide companionship and care for them. We also wanted to improve their English skills. Before our trip, Dr. Patricia Pasick, an international expert on childhood trauma from the University of Michigan, mentored us on how to give the girls psychological and emotional support when speaking with them about their lives. Planning several months in advance, we set up weekly Skype calls with the girls so that they could grow comfortable with our names and faces. Despite the significant language barrier, we still managed to have simple conversations about their days and activities, while they in turn would ask about our friends and families.
We organized a variety of activities to connect with the girls and overcome the language barrier. We brought both basic necessities as well as crafts, games and nail polish. Each of us was assigned to lead a group of six to seven girls, dividing the total of 36 girls from Grace into 5 groups. Each day we would meet with our groups to play games and get to know the girls more intimately. We slowly learned about their incredibly difficult, often tragic, lives before coming to Grace Center.
Many of the children had suffered the death of parents, days without food and shelter, and a daily struggle to survive. Often these desperate stories were unimaginably heart breaking, and difficult to hear. Despite their suffering, the resilience of these girls is remarkable. I was amazed at how good natured, kind and respectful, all the children were. I truly hope, that at least for a short period, we added a little extra affection, compassion and hope, to childhoods which had been devoid of them for so long.
We plan to return to Grace Orphanage next year and continue our work with our new found friends. I have grown spiritually and emotionally through this experience. I have a better perspective on life and hope to devote my future to helping children like those at Grace. To learn more or to support Grace Care, please visit www.you-shall-love.com