With such impressive and inspiring work as the volunteers and permanent workers of the New Light Organization do on a daily basis, it was important of course for Luca and me to financially support the project in addition to working as volunteers. After gathering my first impressions after a few days, I worked out some ideas with Charlie, which we think would be the most effective help for the organization. With these suggestions in mind, I met with Avantika, the woman who gathers together all the threads of New Light to discuss what we could get and organize. Of course, she immediately knew exactly where the biggest issues lie at the moment and where the money from Travel for Smiles would make the most sense to go to. She wrote me a list of 26 pillowcases, 20 pillows, and 46 sheets for the homes, as these products would not be readily available.
Four days before I left, Charlie, a local New Lights employee, and I set off to buy things. Charlie even contributed a football, as well as a “Mensch ärgere dich nicht” and Jango to give the boys an extra treat. For the following day, I arranged to meet the two oldest boys in the home to get some books for them. They created a list of topics for the other children, so that there is something for everyone. When we arrived at the roadside bookstores, they expressed the concern of whether it would be possible to get one or two games, with which they could play together and also help them in the pursuit of their hobbies. Of course, it was a pleasure to pursue this wish and together we acquired Monopoly, a magic box and a magic cube. A small amount was flowing into the preparation of a group game.
When working as a volunteer, it is always beneficial to have programs in mind that you can do together with the children and adolescents and ideally give them something for life. For this I have picked out something in which all the boys of the home could join, they should think about themselves and the fun in the end, nevertheless, should not be neglected. On a two-by-three-meter white sheet, everyone should write down one thing he wants to work on in the future to get better. It was very nice to see how seriously they took this game. As soon as everybody, including Charlie and me, wrote something on the sheet and read each one out loud, we asked the kids to stand on the white sheet so they could move on to the next step. The last task should be to turn the sheet over while all 23 children are standing on it. Once one had touched the ground, they would have had to start over. After initial difficulties, the older boys decided to take the younger ones on the shoulders to be on less area, which eventually led to success. At the end of the day we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughter. With this game, Charlie and I wanted to teach the boys how important it is to work on themselves and be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. The final part of the exercise was to strengthen teamwork as a group and we tried to explain to them that their own goals can best be achieved if the boys support each other.
All in all, Travel for Smiles spent 299,36 Euro on the things listed above, and we do not regret a single cent of it!