Forever Changed by Batam

by Brittney Howell
Story by Fabien Ghys, Usana Associate – Singapore.

“We need to help these children” was my very first thought I had as we visited Batam this last spring. 

I was heart-broken. This Indonesian island, located only one hour by ferry from Singapore, has more than 40 orphanages. A vast majority of them need urgent help. Some of them host up to 70 kids in the facility. This was a different site than what I was used to seeing from where I live in Singapore.

Kids are sent to these orphanages from all over Indonesia, and even other countries in order to live better lives. Unfortunately, we don’t know what their future holds.  We don’t even know some of their stories. We did know in that very moment that we were there to provide help in a way that wouldn’t only help change their lives, but changes ours too. We want nothing more than for each of these children to live a life every kid on earth should have- full of laughter, happiness and good health.

It takes a village

Helen and I decided to make it big, so together with 18 of our teammates who showed an immediate interest in making a difference, the planning began and our first team Foundation charity trip out of Singapore was born!

During the coming weeks, we gathered clothes and toys for the children we would be visiting. Our plan was to visit as many orphanages as possible on October 14th, in hopes of brightening their day for at least a small moment. Since the first day of this becoming a reality, the enthusiasm was at the top. We were all looking forward to contributing especially since many of our teammates never had the opportunity to serve in this way before!

Organizing the logistics were pretty straightforward. We arrived on a Saturday and all stayed in the same hotel close to the pier. Our Saturday evening was perfect for team bonding as we all went for dinner together and talked about how we thought the next day would be. We could sense that everyone was truly excited.

The next morning, we all met in the hotel lobby and divided our group into 3 teams who would each visit between 3 and 4 different orphanages. Our local drivers took us around the island, the whole journey was pretty smooth despite a few of the orphanages being rather difficult to locate- dirt roads where there was so much mud from the rain, you could only use four-wheel vehicles which were sparse. 

Each orphanage was a different experience. Some of them lack more necessities than others. Many did not even have a proper roof overhead. But it was a roof, and they didn’t seem to mind. However, you know the space is small when you see upward of 40 children sleeping, eating, playing and resting all within the same room. It was hard to accept- not understanding how we could fully assist in their situation. 

Saying Goodbye

Most orphanages have their own song that the children sing as we departed- thanking us for our visit. Saying good-bye always brought on the tears. But they were tears of joy for the most part.  Each of us gained a different perspective from this experience. Mine and Helen’s most prized memory took place at the first orphanage we visited. We couldn’t hold it in when all the kids started to sing “Heal The World.” The kids were singing with all they had in their tiny (or big) hearts! They all knew the song perfectly. As one of the 5-year-old boys stared at me through this song, I felt he was grateful for the help we were able to provide, yet I wanted to give more.  As we carried on, we were able to visit a total of 10 additional orphanages through the morning. 

Taking home the memories

This experience changed each and every one of us. It was realized by many of the teammates that they now understand how even with little effort, one person can make a big difference. 

The USANA Foundation supported our initiative with various THF items. Everyone is now proud to wear the pin “I SERVED!”.  This pin now has meaning for many when before it seemed like a great pin to have. They are now proud to wear it not for the sake of adding it to their pin collections, but for the sake of advocating that change in the world can happen when you as one individual choose to take action. 

New friendships were born, an impact was made on the Island of Batam, and we are forever changed by the service that touched our hearts.

Food for Thought

Have you ever been overcome with emotion as you donated your time in the service of others? Share your powerful moments in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Remember, 100 percent of all donations made to the USANA True Health Foundation always go to change the lives of those most in need around the world.

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