(above and below pics are actually Dada School) When we decided that we wanted the entire family to go to Taiwan to pick up our 3 little people, one of my biggest desires was that we NOT be wholly tourists. I wanted to know real people, experience the culture as much as possible and find some way to contribute…serve in some way that could broaden our horizons and grow our gratitude.
So, I googled Taiwan and volunteering and some other variations and fairly quickly, I came across Dada School, the English cram school where we ended up—exchanging our volunteering for room and board. And while we HAVE been tourists, as the blog shows, we have also been able to interface in real ways with real people and families.
Just in the past week, Ching started an adult English conversation class that so far has been run by volunteers like me. In the three times we’ve met, I’ve learned about their favorite places in Taiwan to visit, discussed cultural differences and had a wonderful time conversing about any and all topics.
Still, I admit that I have wanted to contribute in ways that would connect me to the bigger reason I'm here...to meet and take home three little children. I had found an orphanage, Harmony Home, in Taipei that accepts volunteers on a short term basis and decided that once Tom and Emma left, we would try to visit the orphanage weekly.
So, last week was our first attempt at a visit; it is part shelter, part orphanage and cares for children of all ages. harmonyhome The address is not public, so we made our way there, directions in hand, wondering what we would find.
We found a busy happening haven filled with people. No pictures were allowed…it could’ve been a day care center anywhere. There were probably 6 or so babies, 15 or so toddlers; the school aged kids weren’t home yet. Talking with a few English speaking volunteers (one from Germany, the other a prospective adoptive parent from the US), it was clear that there are great needs, but from the looks of things, it was well staffed. Sam and our friend who came along played with the kids who were pretty much like any other kids. An obvious and sad difference is that at the end of the day, they don’t have parents who care for and love them individually; they are part of a larger group with pressing needs.
Once I visited that orphanage the first time, I thought, why can’t I just volunteer at the orphanage associated with our youngest child? It is in Taipei also...why not establish an in person relationship with them and learn more about Han-han from people who know him well AND understand the work they do.
Since we have been in Taiwan, we have not been allowed to visit the kids in person until the judge's first ruling that they will be our kids. But, as of today, I received an email that Garden of Mercy, the other orphanage, requires volunteer training, so, not possible for us this time around. So, maybe for now...Harmony Home.