Micheala Lam, our youngest founder speaks from the heart about how volunteering changed her life.
“As a teenager I started to feel like I didn’t belong and by the time I turned 21, I had perfected the art of hiding behind the many masks I had built over the years. I could switch from one to the other to suit my mood or friend group and over time I lost my self worth and everything I was raised to believe in. Then one morning I looked in the mirror and the face staring back at me had become a stranger, I knew my story couldn’t end this way. God had designed me for a time and a purpose, and I needed to find a way back to me, but I didn’t know how.
At 21 what do you do when you’re on a journey of self discovery? You travel! I told myself that by moving from country to country, I would have a ‘fresh start’, and if I messed up, I could travel to the next country and just keep moving, leaving my problems behind. I made one promise to myself that wherever my travels took me, I would volunteer. I started in Nicaragua and what should have been 2 weeks turned into 3 amazing months.
The first time I drove through the garbage dumps of Cristo Ray I saw hundreds of families living in dire poverty and I knew I couldn’t leave until I done something to help be a part of their solution, so I threw on my sneakers and dug in. I built homes, worked in the orphanage, painted fingers nails, made crafts and helped with the feeding program. What I didn’t anticipate was just how much my life was going to change and within weeks I felt a sense of belonging and accomplishment. In the slums of Nicaragua there was no need for a mask, I had found my purpose.
My futile search for a future had been a never-ending race that had brought me nothing but pain and disappointment. Here in the slums, people don’t chase after wealth, instead they chase after the things I had taken for granted like going to bed with a full stomach or drinking clean water.
I found hope and friendship in the dumps of Nicaragua and every time I go back, my heart is full. What a privilege it has been to serve this beautiful community. Thank you, Cristo Rey, for helping lift me out of emotional poverty, my hope is that I (along with Saving The Hungry) can continue to lift you from physical poverty”