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For Spring Break, I traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica where I spent a week volunteering with my mother. I joined her three weeks into our volunteer project at the Blossom Garden Child Care Facility. The facility houses approximately 60 children total, ranging in age from young infants to elementary school children. I absolutely love spending time with children and could not have been more excited to spend a week with them. However, I was not prepared for the horror stories I would hear as I learnt why the children now call Blossom Garden their temporary home. In the weeks prior to my arrival on the island, I held a fundraiser on campus with the hope of raising funds for the facility. I was able to collect an amount much larger than expected due to the generosity of my peers and Rollins faculty. Before my arrival, I filled suitcases with items desperately needed such as diapers, bibs, wipes, and other necessities. All of the donations were greatly appreciated by the facility’s manager, Ms. Brown, yet I still felt it was not enough. When I first entered the building, I realized that these children needed much less than the games and toys to be happy. A simple hug and someone to laugh with meant more than the world to them; something most never received with their parents before being taken or given away. 

There were children who caught my attention more than others and who needed the most emotional support. In particular, a young boy who was partially blind with a mental disorder had an especially deep impact on me. One minute he was sitting in my lap and the next he was scratching my face violently when he was not being held. Another young boy had both his thighs wrapped in casts that connected to each other, preventing him from walking properly or playing with the other children as much as he would like. There was a girl who I will also never forget. She arrived at the facility just a week or so prior to when I met her. She was taken from her home because her parents were extremely abusive, which was clearly visible all over her body. She had a cast from her knee down to her foot, scratches and bruises that looked like nothing I had ever seen before, and a mouth filled with gaps from her teeth being knocked out. She did not say much, but we instantly connected and she remained close to me at all times. Those are just three of the many children at the facility who desire nothing more than to be loved.  

If there is one thing I realized during my trip, it is that life is not as tough as many of us may think. Yes, in our world under different circumstances, we may be in stressful or difficult situations, but at the end of the day we all are able to go back to our homes or dorm rooms knowing that we are safe, receiving a great education, and with someone to call mom and dad at the end of the day.