Last week I had the pleasure of sharing time, activities, meals, laughs and experiences with a group of students from the YMCA University of Honk Kong.

We went together (and with a good number of YMCA volunteers!!) to the Diabata Refugee Center. At the time we reached there the temperature was of -2 degrees; ice and snow covered the entire place. But we didn´t feel the cold! The students had prepared a workshop about musical instruments. We made maracas, drums and tambourines out of paper, plastic and cardboard with the children. The next step consisted on trying the instruments all together with songs, dances and games. The children -who at the beginning would not be more than 35- multiplied. The new of the arrival of a group of people with whom to play ran like wildfire throughout the center and the children did not stop arriving. It was touching to hear them asking continuously if we would return the next day.

In the afternoon some of our visitors attended the program React For Life, which consists on teaching languages to refugees. That day the teacher was our volunteer Lia, and students from Cameroon, Syria, and Iraq joined the lesson. A special  plan was followed that day. Instead of the regular English lesson we talked about languages, words, our favorite words…and we also wrote the numbers up to 10, in Arabic, English and Chinese.

The group really enjoyed the guided tour in the YMCA building that Chara made for us. They sang songs in the theater, played the piano in the Zannas Room and visited the Museum of Basket.

The following day they taught me how to make a golden fish in three dimensions with paper, to write the word “spring” in Chinese, and they explained many things about their culture to us.

I learnt a lot with and from them, especially from their attitude and their positive way to react in front of the unforeseen events (due to the weather conditions we were to change the program in more than one occasion).

They are a living example of their motto: “to serve, not to be served”


*Did you guess?? It means “hello”!!