Walking into the SACH house was an experience I will never forget. I was immediately greeted with a hug by a girl (who I would later learn is Delice from Rwanda) as well as waves and excited shouts from many other children who, although I did not know it then, would forever change my life. I have learned more about myself and the world I live in than I ever thought I would in the brief two weeks working at SACH.
The day to day life at SACH is full of art, magnet tiles, puzzles, and joy. Every day we would do a different art project with the kids as well as have toys out and ready to play with. Zoe (another SACH volunteer who began at the same time I did) and myself had a saying “it is not a regular day at SACH unless you have glitter, paint, or stickers somewhere on you.” The goal of each day is to keep the joy of being a child with these children, even with the medical issues they have. The pure joy on the children’s faces when we painted birdhouses or the mothers excitement when we beaded bracelets made each day so rewarding. Each activity we did with the kids taught me invaluable communication skills.
In the house everyone is speaking different languages. We used hand gestures as well as interpretive dance to communicate if needed, but I learned that the best form of communication is play. Playing is a communication within itself; children from all over come to SACH, and they cannot speak to each other but they bond by playing. It is amazing to see these friendships form as well as become friends with the children yourself.
I felt as though I was an older sister to all forty kids within the SACH house, and it was a dream come true to have these forty brothers and sisters even if it was just two weeks. I ate with them at meals and tried new foods from all over the globe including: Tanzanian, Rwandan, Kurdish, Zanzibarian, and Solomon Islands cuisine. I also shared some Israeli as well as Jewish cuisine with them. The mothers and nurses and I bonded over cooking in the shared kitchen as well as our love for the children.
Saying goodbye to the kids, mothers, and nurses was one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever had to say. They will never know just how much I loved each second at that house and how much they impacted my life. One mother Momma Andy, Nesta from Solomon Islands, gave me a seashell bracelet that she made in Solomon Islands. I wear it every day as a reminder of the time I spent at the SACH house. I cannot wait to come back to Save a Child’s Heart to volunteer again and make more children smile during such a difficult time.