By Kat Barnard
Everyone has a future. What each individual’s future holds, however, will of course be different. Some people meet their potential, some exceed it and some fall short of it, but what really causes these vast differences? Education, food, shelter, family, culture, religion, money, careers and materialistic possessions are the obvious answers and while these things will certainly have an impact, we must not forget about those ideals less tangible. Over the last two weeks I have noticed how the things that cost nothing can change someone’s future. Love, care, generosity, patience, kindness and a smile can make the world of difference for those in the world who don’t have anyone in their life to offer these things. We have all been privileged to see how the staff, children, sponsors and extended family of The Peace Centre have now changed the direction of the lives of these 23 children; children who not so long ago, had nothing and a rather bleak future. In most cases they had very little to eat, barely any clothing to cover them, almost no chance of a better future and no one at home to love them, care for them or provide for them.
Each and every one of us on this trip has come away having received so much more than we gave. We have learnt from our role models Peace and Golden who demonstrate love, kindness, generosity, faith and a sense of fun and good humour in all they do. They are an inspiration to everyone they meet, but most importantly they are now parents to an additional 23 children. They have taught us all so many qualities. They have once again welcomed the DCS team into their home, into their lives with open arms. We owe them a big ‘thank you’ not only for their hospitality, but also for opening our eyes and for teaching us all how to prioritise what is really important. They helped us recognize that we should place more value on our relationships with others, to support someone in need and caused me to reflect not to rely on devices that actually have the potential to isolate us from each other. In the majority of the blogs the students have written, they have commented on how fortunate they are to have running water, a loving family or a top quality education. But the thing that stands out the most for me is how on this trip each person has become more loving, more caring, more understanding, more reflective and more appreciative for what they have.
By living in and by being part of the daily chores in The Peace Centre, we all have a very good understanding of how these children will now be brought up. How they will support each other to get through the ups and downs of life, how they will grow up having brothers and sisters and loving parents – from all over the world – how they will have a chance of creating their own success story by being educated, and most importantly we have witnessed that each of these children are being taught how to love, care and share with one another. In other words, they are a family. Just one that is slightly bigger than yours or mine.
Through the nature of their education, the loving homes they are part of and the opportunities that will come their way, I can say with a great deal of certainty that the 18 Dulwich College Shanghai students that went on this trip will have a bright future. I think it is fair to say, however, that due to these life-changing experiences they have all grown immeasurably over the past two weeks, and as such, their future choices will now be made with greater degrees of compassion, depth and maturity. As such, they will go on to make a difference in the world in which we live, impacting the lives of others with increased injections of love, care and kindness along the way. I am genuinely excited to see what their futures hold.
The next time you look into your future, don’t just think about jobs, experiences, holidays, places or friendships you have already established. Think also about those ideals less tangible that you would like to see in yourself and the impact you can have on others. Like our Ugandan hosts, don’t do anything without love and a smile. They may cost nothing, but they give more than you can imagine. And what’s more, they have the power to change futures.
Who are we?
A team working alongside Golden Magezi in Bukinda, Uganda, running an orphanage that provides kids with love, family and an education.