To be a volunteer especially at a Children’s home is nothing short of a blessing. To direct your whole being to be a conduit of compassion in an altruistic way is nothing short of a God given gift. Here is my story.

I came to the GoodLife Orphanage on July 19th a day before my 36th birthday. I had just left a job as Country Director at an Advertising agency in South Sudan earning more money with perks than any single woman I can even imagine. However I was extremely unfulfilled and that was something no money or status could fulfill

I then left that job quite unceremoniously at first I was confused and without a doubt that I had ruined my career. In shock of my own actions after a month of literally being stunned and praying I got an email from Mary Maguire with the simple line “ Are you still interested?”

I had no idea who she was, what exactly it was I was looking at, when I had applied and what exactly I was interested in, I saw she was from The Good Life Orphanage, so I thought to myself I must have wanted something here at a point in my life so I wrote back “yes I am still very interested”. I then went ahead to Google who they were, who she was and what I wanted as I had no recollection whatsoever.

Upon finding them again I still could not remember the state of being I was in when I applied to be a volunteer but I was happy that she had found me at the nick of time as I was just about to start a another lucrative life draining career path. The process to get here was not the easiest as the Orphanage must take precaution on which characters they let in to volunteer. This means all police checks, background checks, and other necessary checks they had to do. I gave them a timeline of 9 months for my stay which is how long I will be here and they gladlyaccepted.

Upon my arrival I decided not to have any expectations and simply experience the children and see which part of me would be most necessary and how best to impart my knowledge. This was a very wise decision even if I do say so myself as I came to realize that all parts of who I was from being an artist, a yoga instructor, a mildly dyslexic learner, a creative, and senior business executive all seemed to tie into The Goodlife Orphanage. I was useful everywhere.

That being said, I am mildly dyslexic and still I make very many mistakes when spelling and I am only saved with spell check as technology has saved me dearly, I came across a kindred spirit in Dyslexia. She is 5 years old and one of the most adorable children here. And this is where my presence here at the orphanage as a volunteer becomes interesting.

Sherry is an outgoing, talkative, playful, spirited and full of life 5 year old and she loves everything laughs at everything until you put books, letters numbers and any learning material in her eyes view and you become mortal enemies. At first I could not understand what her problems were and why this was an issue.

I went to see her teacher at school as even getting her to write her own name was the same as taking a 5 year old to the dentist. Her teacher explained to me that she had been held back from going to PP2 as she had difficulty learning and was not keeping up with her peers. She also had a problem recognising the letters but was able to catch on to phonetic s, signs and symbols.

No, all this sounded familiar as I realised I had the same challenges but mine were not as severe. I then used You Tube (I worked in digital marketing and therefore believe in the power of technology) and learnt that she had severe Dyslexia. Hence the epic tantrums when presented with books. It was because she could not understand, see or recognize things in a standard way like all the rest and that is why she was not learning at the same pace.

That discovery got me researching more on how to teach a child with dyslexia, which tools to use, what attention to give, how to make them focus. Each evening we sit together and learn the alphabet and numbers. It is not the easiest task but once I learnt how to make it fun and full of encouraging words she has taken to it very well. Meaning we don’t fight at all.

That being said she once called me aside and whispered to me “today I prayed that God helps me learn how to read” and that got me all teary for at that moment I realized what being a volunteer meant.

You are called to be the answer to someone’s prayer.

Juliet Kidula

Volunteer July 19 2019 – April 20 – 2020

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