One Voice for LaosOne Voice for Laos
One Voice for Laos
July 29, 2012
Travel Beyond Your Comfort Zone!


Report from Rachel Castellano, three days after leaving the Deak Kum Pa Orphanage.

Although it was three days ago, I can't shake the feeling I had leaving the Deak Kum Pa orphanage. We spent the day painting the finishing touches on our mural, playing soccer with the athletes, and desperately trying to finally connect with the baby at the orphanage, named Sunday.

Personally, I didn't want to discuss the fact that I might never see this mural or these beautiful faces again.

Despite the fact that I've promised myself that I will return to this part of the world, it felt as if I was leaving behind something I'd invested a lot of myself in.

The first sign I got that we had made an impact on these deserving kids' lives was when Villavong (one of the teenage girls who speaks English well) expressed how much she would miss me.

Because the orphanage always has volunteers from around the world coming and helping, and then leaving, I figured that us leaving wouldn't impact them.


Surprisingly, I was very wrong.

After playing soccer for long enough to feel light-headed and sick from the heat, I went to sit with the girls in the shade. As I
approached, they looked at each other and then disappeared.

Baffled, but content, I sat down and began talking with an Australian woman who was also volunteering.

When Yeng, Villavong, and Malia (or Palia or Balia I'm never really sure) returned, they started tying bracelets around my wrists. Since I couldn't see them while they were tying the knots, I figured these were bracelets like ones I had seen in the art room.

However, when they stepped away I saw they were much more personal.

I still haven't figured out when they had the time to make them, since we had spent every day of the last week with them.

One of the bracelets read "Rachel I love you and miss you." Another read "I love you Rachle you very prety". The other had light blue hearts around the whole thing.

I felt immensely grateful and appreciative of this tiny gesture. Khamsing also gave us all bracelets and Konelee gave us each a card. On each card he did a little watercolor painting and on the inside was a different personal message for everyone.

Although their culture doesn't involve hugging, I could still feel their sadness, as well as their appreciation as we left.

I think we spent just enough time there to create some sort of relationship with most of the kids there. Whether it was a relationship that was just comfortable enough to smile at each other, or one where we learned personal things about each
other, they were all worth more than I am able to put into words.

Everyone told me this trip would be a life-changing experience. I believed them but I didn't fully understand what that meant until now.

I urge each and every one person that reads this, TRAVEL! I don't mean travel to Europe and live in a first-class city (although that is very enjoyable).

Travel to somewhere outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to make connections with people whose experiences have been completely opposite yours. This will allow you to not only understand the world better, but understand yourself in a whole new way.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2011
Planning the Trip to the Orphanage


Just a brief reminder:
Our next
One Voice for Laos meeting
will be at Evelyne's house
this Sunday, September 18th, 7:00 pm.

This will be a chance for you
to decide if you REALLY
are committed to
going to the orphanage
for two weeks in 2012.

Please invite your parents
to the meeting
and review the questions
posted on our FB page.

Please RSVP to Evelyne
by Friday, 9/16 --

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

One Voice Global is a humanitarian aide organization, based in Woodstock. Our mission is to help Hudson Valley teenagers develop the kind of mindset, skills, and abilities they need to become compassionate humanitarians, social activists and global citizens. We accomplish our goal by improving the lives of orphans and other children in need through fundraising projects, cultural exchange, and onsite service visits to the organizations we serve.

Our Mission
Intro Slide Show
The Documentary