A journey can inspire you.
Lately, as we approach the holidays, I’ve been reflecting upon a quote that came to my knowledge awhile back: A single journey can change the course of a life…A journey can inspire you. I’ve lived a vividly colorful life. Some experiences serendipitously arrived at my feet, while some have been explored creations that I intentionally sought after. In other words, I don’t know how to live an uninteresting life.
In 2006, I was a 26-year-old girl, roaming around the glitz and glamor of an entirely different industry. Eventually, the never-ending work ethic led to a sudden realization: I had everything, yet I wasn’t happy; while innocent people and helpless children suffered around the world, unwillingly drowning in pain. I wanted to help, I needed to start somewhere. Soon, I signed up to volunteer at CPMC (California Pacific Medial Center) in San Francisco. This experience eventually fed me the courage to aim for bigger personal goals. Not long after, I left behind a professional glamor to embark on a personal journey. From visiting schools in India, orphanages in Cambodia, to soup kitchens in Paris; I met an abundance of brave souls who fought to live for one more day, gripping onto every viable rope to survive. In three years, I lived in several different countries. In each setting, I devoted a great amount of time to giving and volunteering. Below are three organizations in various world cities that I highly recommend. Thanksgiving or not, the world eternally works in circular ways. Compared to many in this world, we are all considered the lucky ones. It just may be time for you to create a journey for yourself – one that can change the course of a life, or one that simultaneously inspires…you.
California Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco, USA)
CPMC has a wonderful program that resides in different campuses across the city of San Francisco. The program is quite large and operates on a well-oiled structure. It covers volunteerism in all forms: pediatrics, women, elders, ER…etc. The hours are flexible, but hours of training are required, which may be considered vigorous for some. But I assure, the entire experience is well worth the training process. Enfaced with terminally ill children, I finally understood the true meaning of resilience.
Harmony Home (Taiwan & China)
This is an association near and dear to my heart. Harmony Home assists adults and children who are HIV positive or have AIDS. Most of Harmony Home’s residents have been abandoned by society or their families. Founder, Nicole Yang, established the non-profit organization to medically care for patients and providing shelter for them to live in. Click here for ways to sponsor children or to donate to the organization.
Restos du Cœur (Paris, France)
This is one of the most successful charities in France, founded by a famous comedian, Coluche. The organization distributes food and hot meals to the poor a few times a week.
When I lived in Paris, I refused to believe that the City of Lights only had luxury and glamor to offer. A local friend of mine introduced me to Restos du Cœur, where I volunteered during my two-year stay in Paris. During this experience, I encountered all walks of life. We distributed food and packages in a large but chilly warehouse. Lines of people stood outside, despite rain or snow, waiting to receive vegetables, candies, yogurt, frozen meals from volunteers. Indeed, all types of life exists in the City of Love.
If you’re living abroad, there are many ways to volunteer and show your gratitude to the beautiful life that you lead. More often, it’s such experiences that carry through regardless of where you reside in the future.