Independence calls for more than just taking care of oneself. A truly fulfilling adult life requires opening your heart to serve others as well.
This was Children’s Emergency Relief International’s message to a group of young adults participating in its Transitional Living program in Moldova. The teens, many who are “graduating” from the country’s impoverished orphanages, are learning how to make safe and responsible decisions once they’re out on their own.
The children couldn’t wait to play in their brighter, easier to see, playground.
Youth not only learned – but lived – the important lesson of caring for others as well as themselves.
The idea that caring for others is part of adulthood seemed to penetrate. Within days of CERI’s lesson, the youth got busy organizing an innovative project to benefit local kindergarteners.
The government-run school chosen by the youth, known as “Nr.135,” serves children with visual disabilities. On one side of the older concrete building is a generously-sized playground (as city playgrounds go), where the children can play outside during the warm summer months. While there’s plenty of room to run around, the grey and tan-colored scenery makes it difficult for the children to maneuver the area so they can play safely. The youth’s solution: paint the grounds in bright, easy-to-see colors.
“We thought, the brighter the colors, the more chances that the children will be able to recognize their surroundings and use the playground,” said Connie Belciug, CERI National Director in Moldova.
Armed with paint, brushes and sandwiches, the group of young adults rolled up their sleeves and got to work. By the end of the day, the playground beamed with fresh, cheerful colors. As soon as the paint dried, a throng of eager kindergarteners burst out of the school doors. Filled with excitement and energy, the children leaped onto the vibrant new tires and declared themselves kings and queens of the playground. Other youngsters grabbed shovels and monster trucks and let their imaginations run wild in the neon yellow and green sandbox.
As the team looked around it was clear that the joy and enthusiasm was mutual. The young adults embraced after a long day’s work, satisfied with the empowerment they gained through service to others (just as their CERI teachers had told them they would).
“Using their blessings to help others builds confidence and improves the quality of relationships in our youth’s own lives,” said Belciug. “I’m so proud of our youth for not only learning – but living – this important lesson.”