2016 is going to be a record making year for our Winnipeg chapter as so many volunteers have chosen to serve in HOPE programs across the globe. 7 HOPE volunteers, all from our main partner the Winnipeg Church of Christ, are sacrificing time and money to travel far to meet needs. When asked why so many in the church were volunteering this year, David Jung, minister of the Winnipeg Church of Christ, responded "I believe as we grow in our relationship with God we also grow in our gratitude. One way to express that gratitude is to continue to give of yourself to serve those who need it most. Participants in the HYC program are growing in their faith and living it out more fully through their sacrifice and service."
Ranging in age and season of life, all the volunteers are excited for the journey they'll be taking...and that journey will be leading them far and wide. Here are some highlights on each of our committed Winnipeg volunteers.
Gabriel Jung, our youngest volunteer at age 16, will be travelling to Chicago to join the HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) in a variety of service projects across the city. He'll be building homes for low income families, volunteering with homeless shelters, working in a community garden, as well as mentoring at-risk youth from the inner city. When reviewing the HYC options this year and looking at the needs in Chicago, Gabriel stated "I never thought Chicago had these sort of issues, so I was taken back by that, and wanted to go there to address those issues that most people don't know about."
This December will be Sharisse Lontajo's second time volunteering with HYC after serving 2 years ago in Philadelphia with handicapped children. This time around Sharisse will be travelling to Thailand to spend her Christmas at the Baan Nontapum Home for Disabled Children. On explaining her reasoning for travelling to Thailand: "Firstly I am passionate about children and second, my heart goes out to the disabled community. As a younger sister to a wonderful brother who is diagnosed with Down syndrome, I feel I could learn ways to accommodate my brother even more, but as well use the skills I have developed by helping my brother throughout the years to serve this special group to my best advantage. It would be an honour to serve in any way I can so that this group can feel extremely loved and cared for in the short amount of time that we are with them."
When John and Sherry Abet combed through the HYC site for volunteer opportunities abroad but were unable to find one that fit with their work schedules, they reached out to HOPE worldwide Philippines through the Winnipeg Chapter office to see if an opportunity to serve might present itself. And did it ever!
John and Sherry are in the Philippines this May for 15 days volunteering at three Centers of HOPE, as well as in an orphanage, community homes and participating in a therapy camp for abused children. When explaining why they chose to reach out to HOPE worldwide Philippines, they explained, "because of our connections with the Filipino community here in Winnipeg, and their strong support during the last few years in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan. The Filipino people have a strong family presence and work ethic which has inspired us to learn from this culture firsthand." While volunteering, they also plan on capturing their trip on video in order to inspire further volunteers from HOPE worldwide of Canada.
It's a family affair for Kevin, Krista and Caitlyn Wiebe as they depart for Bangkok this December to serve at the Baan Nontapum Home for Disabled Children with HOPE Family Corps. This trip has been years in the making as the Wiebes have been praying and thinking about travelling abroad together to serve for a long time. All three have hearts for both children and the disabled, and those they will be serving are primarily homeless, abandoned or orphaned children between the ages of 7 to 18 years old.
Kevin explains their choice to serve in Bangkok: "I can understand how difficult it can be for children with a disability to manage in the world and this is only increased tenfold when we look at the situation in countries like Thailand. I have worked with children in a volunteer capacity at times and know how great an impact we can have on their lives. After viewing the facility on their website and reading stories about the people they help and the centers mission to care for them I have been deeply moved and drawn to their cause"
Our Winnipeg Chapter and the Winnipeg Church of Christ are excited for all the experiences these committed volunteers will have and are eager to hear the stories they will bring back to inspire others to do the same. We wish them all Bon Voyage!