Hear From Our Lovely Volunteers2

My Experiences with the Burundians
By Rob Higham (HS Student)

I can still remember the very first day I went over to Richland Hills to work with the refugees. My mom had begun volunteering with refugees earlier that year and had been wanting me to come help out in the pre-school with her. I had heard many of her stories about how fun and loving the kids were, so I was quite excited to finally meet the kids and work with them. I figured that this would be the type of thing where I would work with the kids a little bit here and a little bit there- something I would enjoy but by no means grow to love. After that first day, however, I realized I was completely wrong.
Since then, I have continued my work with the refugees. I have helped out in the pre-school, an elementary school reading program in the summer, and in an after-school homework/tutoring program. I have come to work with most of the kids here, and I love each and every one of them. I enjoy and appreciate every second I spend with them. Aside from mentoring them, I have learned so much about them, their past lives, and their culture. In working with them, I have made countless friends. In doing so, the barriers that inevitably exist where they view me as their “tutor” and I view them as “the kids I’m working with” have been broken. In its place stands a mutual friendship that will last longer than I ever thought possible. 
I have been working with the Burundians for the past eleven months now. Even though I have been helping them, they have been helping and teaching me, as well. In mentoring them, I have learned countless lessons. I have come to see that no act of kindness, however small, goes unappreciated. The kids will love you no matter what, and they genuinely appreciate everything you do for them. Whether you are helping someone with their math homework or playing soccer with a group of kids, the kids will appreciate it. I have also seen firsthand just how far the small things go. 
I cannot imagine where I would be without my new friends. I feel I have grown as a person through my work with them. What began for me as a small opportunity has become something much more than that. I cannot describe how it became such a big part of me, but one thing is for sure- deciding to go help out with the kids on that early June morning was the best decision of my life.