14 July 2024
Lifestyle

Hearts United: A Tale of Volunteering, Connection, and Hope

Today, I had the incredible privilege and honor of witnessing the true beauty of volunteering. It was a day filled with heartfelt moments that touched my soul and reminded me of the power of compassion and connection.

My daughters’ school is part of a remarkable initiative called the Youth to Youth , which falls under the umbrella of The Home Project, an NGO dedicated to caring for unaccompanied children whose lives have been shattered by war and persecution. This program empowers these children to persevere and grow into active citizens, and it was truly inspiring to be a part of it.

ACS School was the first to open their doors and hearts to these children, offering them a program led by dedicated teachers, staff, and students. Every Saturday, these incredible individuals come together to teach English and Greek to the refugees, aiding in their integration process.

I had the honor of driving my daughter Zoe and her friend Nola to school that day, becoming a part of this beautiful and rewarding experience. It reaffirmed my belief that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a profound impact on our world, especially in an era where our values are constantly being questioned.

At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed, unsure of how to earn the trust of these children who have been through so much. But that feeling quickly faded away as I sat down with a group of Egyptian boys who were practicing the Greek alphabet. I watched them intently as they struggled to grasp the letters, their local music playing softly in the background. The melody was so captivating that I couldn’t help but move to the rhythm.

In that moment, something magical happened. Ahmad, the boy sitting next to me, asked me in broken English if I knew anything about Egyptian music. With a smile, I nodded and quickly searched for my favorite Egyptian dish, molokhia soup, to show him my appreciation for their country’s cuisine. Within minutes, we became friends, and a few hours later, we were dancing together to both Greek and Egyptian music in the school’s courtyard.

During the second session, my attention was captured by Zoe, a young girl from Cameroon who was struggling to follow the teacher’s notes as she didn’t speak English. Realizing that she spoke fluent French, I sat beside her and began translating the words for her. Curious, she asked how I knew French, and I shared the story of my Lebanese teacher who used to invite me to her home every Saturday, talking for hours about her life in Lebanon, her French schools, and her friends. In me, she saw the granddaughter she could share her love for French and Lebanese culture with.

In return for her kindness, I offered to help Zoe with her Greek and English. Though she admitted it would be challenging, she expressed her determination to succeed in life. After the class ended, she asked if I had time to go over her English grammar exercises. We found ourselves sitting at a picnic table outside the cafeteria, practicing together. Before parting ways, she asked if I would come back, and without hesitation, I said yes. I told her that I needed a friend to practice my French with, and her smile lit up the entire world.

As we made plans for our next meeting on March 2nd, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of these children’s lives. The experience taught me that by offering even the smallest gestures of kindness, we can make this planet a better and friendlier place to live in. It reminded me of the importance of preserving our human values, especially during times when they are constantly being challenged.

I was reminded of a song my mother used to play on the guitar, its lyrics echoing in my mind, “You’ve got to give a little, take a little, let your poor heart break a little, that’s the story, that’s the glory of love.” Today, as I immersed myself in the world of volunteering, I understood the true meaning of those words.

Volunteering can be challenging; some people shy away from it not because they don’t want to help, but because they fear facing the harsh realities of injustice in our world. Today, my heart broke as I witnessed the struggles and hardships these children have endured. But in that moment of vulnerability, my heart began to heal, and it started beating with even greater strength. It was filled with a renewed sense of hope and a belief that each of us has the power to bridge gaps, foster understanding, and create lifelong connections.

I am forever grateful for this beautiful and sentimental experience, as it has shown me the immense capacity we all possess to make a difference. It has reminded me of the importance of compassion and empathy, even in the face of adversity. I eagerly look forward to sharing with you all the incredible initiatives of the Youth to Youth Program and introducing you to the remarkable individuals behind this noble project. Together, we can create a world filled with love, understanding, and lasting change.

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