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SimplyHelp El Salvador Trip: An Inspiring Journey

SimplyHelp traveled to El Salvador last week to oversee some of our projects there, including our senior centers for the homeless elderly and vocational training schools for low-income communities. The trip was an enormous success, and our volunteers and members got to see first-hand what we do there, and participate in activities like building homes for impoverished communities and distributing needed goods and toys to children. Gloria Liu, a volunteer who traveled to El Salvador, wrote an inspiring account of her experiences --read it below!

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What an amazing trip to El Salvador !

As many of us dragged ourselves out of bed this morning, we remember the life changing experiences we had in our trip to El Salvador.

In 6 days, we visited vocational schools run by the former 1st lady of El Salvador and SimplyHelp. We saw how opportunities to learn life skills have enabled many people to be independent, support their families, and change their lives.

We greeted homeless elders adopted by the SimplyHelp senior centers. We distributed warm socks, stuffed animals, and entertained them with our silly songs and dances. The countless toothless smiles on their weathered faces and warm hugs we received were our greatest rewards.

The rain-soaked steep hills did not stop us. In the pouring rain, we broke ground for the fourth new senior center. Hand-in-hand, we slid, fell, and helped each other make way down the slippery, muddy path. The 5 trees we planted on the hill symbolized the optimism for the success of the new senior center and the growth of continued improvement of the lives of the El Salvadorians.

Bearing suitcases full of toys, school supplies, clothes, and precious food, we traveled long hours to poor villages for distribution. Greeted by warm smiles and anxious anticipations from thousands of children, women, and elders, we felt a strong sense of purpose. It was a joyful and yet heart-aching experience to see how toys and supplies that seemed insignificant to us brought so much happiness to others.

In this trip, we have accomplished so much and did things we never imagine ourselves doing.

Thanks to the positive insistence of our leader, Ms. Tina Bow, every member of the Youth group had numerous opportunities to speak publicly. In front of students in the vocational school, each member shared their experiences in El Salvador. On the next day, we communicated our good wishes to roomfuls of seniors. Later, we took turns sitting on the stage next to esteemed guests such as Mayors of El Salvador, Embassy Representatives, and VIPs to address hundreds in the audience. We shared our voices and thoughts in every distribution, event, and ground breaking ceremonies. With a professional translator translating our every words and professional camera men videotaping our experiences, everyone spoke with poise and elegance. For many of us, public speaking was a comfort zone expanding experience. Now, we can successfully articulate our thoughts as well as effectively share our passion to a large audience.

We have also attended many formal events.

In our formal outfits, we attended a banquet with the Ambassador of Taiwan. This time, each member not only made a speech, but did so in Chinese. Additionally, we also had a once in a lifetime experience to attend the Miss Chinese-El Salvador Crowning Banquet and took pictures with the winner. The most distinctive experience, however, was the dinner with Former President of El Salvador and former first lady in their mansion. With incomparable enthusiasm and anticipation, everyone was at his/her best behavior. We had a loving night of exchange and fellowship with the President and first lady, and enjoyed the authentic El Salvadorian feast. For many of us, this is the night we discovered and fell in love with “Pupusas” – a yummy corn flour pancake with red bean and cheese filling.

We came to El Salvador as a group of children; but, we left as a united team of young men and women. With new friends and shared experiences, we gained valuable insights of lives other than our own. Poverty is no longer a word for us but images of roofless shed, muddy floor, and no running water. The twinkle in little kids’ eyes as they clasped their first stuffed animals, the pride of vocational students serving us their home-made cakes, and the toothless elders waiving their hands while singing twinkle-twinkle-little-star will forever be etched in our hearts.

We want to specially thank Ms. Tina Bow for arranging the trip and showing us what global humanitarian mission is all about. We appreciate her leadership and her faith in our young members. Her passion for others is truly an inspiration for us.

We want to thank Mrs. Jinny Chuang for managing all trip expenses and purchasing group insurances for us. Her expertise in international traveling has kept the trip on budget.

We want to thank Mrs. Gloria Liu for providing trip information and serving as our photographer. She took over 1,700 photographs and these pictures will keep our memories of the El Salvador trip fresh and alive. DVD with pictures will be distributed shortly.

We also want to thank Brooke and Donald for serving as our youth group leader, speech coach, lifeguard, and chaperon who kept us happy and out of trouble.

Lastly, we want to thank our parents for funding our trip. We thank them for taking the financial burden to provide us with an opportunity to open our eyes and expand our hearts.

Like the SimplyHelp motto “Changing lives, one heart at a time,” the 2011 SimplyHelp Humanitarian Trip to El Salvador has changed our hearts.

Thanks,

Gloria

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