My travels have given me the chance to meet many people, but there are just three that I’m going to talk about, and say thanks to. Christine, Gordon, and Sonia.
Firstly, Christine. She may be be blind, but her perspective on life is truly inspirational, and definitely worth sharing.
Her positivity and dedication has allowed her to make several admirable accomplishments so far, from starting university at sixteen, to spending a year volunteering in Fiji, and recently commencing another year in Tonga.
As the first blind person I had the chance to properly meet, I had already taken the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions which she was happy to answer. Then when the opportunity came up to be a guest speaker at the school where I’m volunteering, she was even more enthusiastic to share what she had learned on her journey so far.
In addition to explaining braille, the written language she uses, and how certain technology such as text to speech computer programs and screen-less laptops work, Christine spoke about opportunities. She didn’t seek any sympathy for the opportunities she hasn’t had, such as seeing her parents or the sunrise, but rather expressed thanks for the opportunities she has been given.
These were through her family, teachers, friends, employers, and the organisation I was also involved in. The main message that I , and hopefully the students, took away was that, as much as there is in life that is out of our control, the biggest factor on the quality of our lives is our outlook and willingness to make the most of the chances we are given.
Using her youth as a relatable reference, she stated with a smirk, she had a specialist teacher willing to spend one on one time with her every week, but of course, the teacher couldn’t force her to learn. It was Christine’s decision, as it is mine to write this post to inspire others as I have been, to make similar decisions in my life.
Now to Gordon and Sonia. Gordon was appointed as a Cookery Trainer, and his wife Sonia accompanied him by also volunteering at the school. Time that otherwise could have been spent collecting coconuts and basking by the beach.
Leaving Tonga in two days, I haven’t bothered with the specifics of their flight because I suspect the only way to return to the place of which they came is by putting on a halo and spreading their wings.
True angels, or at the least, two people with abnormally sized hearts.
In the year they have been here, they have gone above and beyond the role of volunteers to give, give, give and give. They set up computers, bought fridges, mentored many students in extra activities, and the list goes on. Arriving with over 100kg of luggage and leaving with 8, they only thing they wanted to take back were memories.
As the students wished them farewell today, I had a chance to see how being in a position of privilege allows one to truly change a school, a community, even a country, for the better. I also saw how appreciated it is, and with culture, community, music, laughter, love, their richness in other areas, makes them more than capable of giving back.