I’ve wanted to volunteer at Rising Star since 2009 when I first talked to Becky Douglas about what she was doing in India. I wanted to go myself, but even more, I wanted my children to go. I wanted them to see how others lived, to learn to love more, to have a chance to serve selflessly, and to appreciate a little more the blessings in their own lives.
My oldest daughter and I arrived at Rising Star’s campus in India in July 2014. It has been an amazing experience. At 15, my daughter is the youngest volunteer. She spends her days with an impressive group of older girls. We visit colonies to take care of leprosy patients, changing bandages, washing ulcers, using gestures to talk with them. We do manual labor to build latrines in a small village, moving sand and bricks while the brick masons direct our work with smiles and waving arms. And we visit the Rising Star school next door, tutoring 5-year-olds in English, helping older kids with pronunciation, playing games with them, reading to them.
It’s hard work. Hard physically and hard emotionally, to see people silently suffering great physical pain, to work with children who don’t speak much English, to be so far from everything familiar and easy and comfortable. But it is just that sort of challenge that gives me confidence in the outcome for our family. It is the process of quietly serving others, day after day that builds the qualities every parent wants to see in their children; a caring heart, a selfless attitude and the confidence to do hard things. These are qualities that we talk about but struggle to teach when we are engulfed in our own easy lives; yet they develop naturally when you spend your days serving someone else far from home, and far outside your own comfort zone.
It’s a wonderful thing to watch my daughter work to build up others and know that they are building up her as well, in ways that my wife and I can hardly do without their help. I look at the other volunteers and smile as I think of their parents worrying about them. I watch them all serve and I see how well they are doing. And I wish every parent could experience what I’ve been through here.
— Nicholas Wells
Volunteer Session 3 (USA)