Stories of Hope

Volunteer Story: The Bartons

Dec 16, 2019

We have had the absolute privilege of volunteering with New Hope Foundation on three different occasions over the last few years. We have assisted with preschool classes, pool time, playtime in nurseries, scrapbooking pages for the children’s life books, and really, anything that was needed.

We still remember our first visit. On day one of that visit we were told to report to the preschool room. Not knowing exactly where that was, we stopped and asked a little boy if he knew where we should be going. He confidently replied, “Come, we go…” so off we went, trying to keep up with this little ball of energy. He proceeded to take us outside and then jumped on a small bike and told us to watch him… Needless to say, this was not the preschool room! This little man, although not getting us to the place we needed to be, showed us that the journey was so very important, too.

Jo-anne and friends

Andrew makes a splash!

Sweet and determined Isaac

On our second trip, we were touched by the beauty and joy of a little girl with a vision impairment. Not knowing exactly how to engage with her, we tried a number of activities that really enabled us to connect. Through singing and touch, we were all able to enjoy such a fun and rewarding time together. To watch her face with anticipation when sharing the nursery rhyme of “This little piggy went to market…” she could not wait for the last little piggy to go “wee wee wee” all the way home. She would giggle and squeal waiting for a tickle near her cheeks.

Our most recent trip was a little less structured, allowing more free time to just engage and spend time with children in their nurseries. This was very precious for us as it allowed us to get to know the children’s personalities very quickly. There was a beautiful little baby in one of the nurseries that had a number of medical challenges to deal with. This caused her to struggle with breathing and also affected her vision. Each day when we visited her nursery, she would crawl over to us without exception. She would enjoy cuddles and tickles and being sung to. We were amazed, given her challenges, that she somehow could recognize that it was us every time. She showed such strength and determination every day.

One of our best memories from our last trip was recognizing how much the children had grown and advanced since our prior trips. One little boy in particular, named Isaac, had gone from being in a Zip-Zac wheelchair to being up and mobile with a walker. But this little guy wasn’t happy to just walk, he ran with it, with the biggest smile across his face. By the end of our last trip, this precious boy was climbing up steps to go down a slide with sheer joy.

Whilst volunteering with NHF, we could see first-hand babies and children being so beautifully cared for, growing in size, abilities and confidence, despite the medical difficulties they were facing. When we decided on our first trip to NHF, we were not prepared for the impact that it would have on our own lives; it was all about the children, or so we thought. We have been so touched by NHF’s purpose and mission, the Directors, the staff and the children so much so that it started our own journey to intercountry adoption, which is quite difficult to pursue in Australia. Being a volunteer at NHF has taught us so many things, but above all it has shown us that every child is special and unique and deserves unconditional love, and that in the right environment, they can flourish to meet their full potential.