Ms. Catherine Chua (Director)

During holidays, a friend gave me a small pillow for my dog. I placed the pillow on her sleep mat but she completely ignored it. I thought that my dog did not like the pillow, but she put her head on it two weeks later and sank into a deep slumber. My dog alerted me that it took time to nurture something.

We often assume that beneficiaries of charitable acts will respond favorably, but we forget that it takes time to nurture success. Hence, when donors do not witness children’s positive feedback or do not turn out as expected, they are discouraged and withdraw their support. There are always trials to face, and it is a shame to give up on good projects too soon. When I participated in life education, I understood that it would take time to cultivate the desired harvest. It is especially true in inter-personal relationships or relationships between humans and animals. Shepherding children to take care of rabbits takes even more time. Hence, in 2014, I started making trips to Luoning, Henan, and settled there for over a month each time, rather than my previous trips that lasted a few days only.

Children have an instinctive affection for rabbits, but this affection often does not last long. A few children, however, persisted in taking care of the rabbits, and I was more than glad to teach every single child who was willing to learn. Those children lasted from weeks, months to a year. At first, there were only two participants, but more peers joined in later. By 2017, three groups of children took shifts to take care of the rabbits. I was touched and comforted. The entire experience was bitter-sweet. It was bitter because there were different views on animals and a shortage of human and material resources. It was sweet because I saw changes in the children. Some of them never talked before, but they grew to discuss the welfare of the rabbits, making suggestions and improvements. They trusted me so much that buddies quarreled in front of me. This platform presented a timely opportunity for adults to walk with their children as they grow.

“Timeliness” is vital to children in welfare institutions. Although some things may take time, it is equally important to seize the right opportunity when it arises. A few disappointing cases that caused me to wonder if I had captured the timely opportunity or taken enough time to nurture some children. There was once a girl whom other children disliked for some reason. However, she was very friendly, and she liked Doudou, our pet dog, very much. She would approach me when I was with Doudou, talking about matters concerning our dog. I tried my best to communicate and share with her even though I did not fully follow her ascent. Once, she made a handicraft, but no one appreciated her effort. When I found out what the handicraft was about, I named it “Leafy Wind Charm” and asked her if she could give it to me as a gift. She happily made a few more wind charms for me. Later, I invited her to take part in animal education activities. Gradually, some children accepted her. Her teacher commented that she engaged better in interpersonal relationships. After a long while, I did not find her when I returned to visit her, who should be a teenager by then. The welfare institute had sent her back to her relatives because of her misbehaviors. They thought she might impose danger on others. The situation was rather dire, and I felt deeply sorry for her. As with all disadvantaged children, adults have limited time to share with them. I wish we could sow timely seeds of positive thinking and act in every single life, seeds that would outweigh the unfavorable circumstances surrounding these children. I pray that these children will develop the courage to face all adverse situations. Let time keep nourishing them and making them strong.