– by Rachel O’Hare
Tonight I write this blog with a heavy heart due to the knowledge that tomorrow is my last day in Morning Star. I’ve spent three and a half weeks living in the Morning Star Home which focuses on both educating disadvantaged children and providing a home for street children. The Home was set up by two men, John and Joy in 1991 and it is presently home to 86 children and young adults.
Approximately 50 of the young people who live in the Home are school and college going children. Some of this cohort are orphaned whilst others come from one parent or very poor families who simply do not have the funds to provide an education for their children. The orphaned children find a home in Morning Star until such times as they are ready to move on to independent living. Many of the children simply ‘board’ in the centre until they have completed secondary level education and then they return to their families. This evening was a blessing in disguise, a man who had lived in Morning Star until he was 18 years old returned after 11 years. He returned to celebrate his own daughter’s first birthday with his family here at Morning Star. It is living proof that these boys will never forget their time at Morning Star and the kindness, love and affection that both John and Joy have given them.
There are approximately 30 children and young adults in Morning Star who have physical and intellectual disabilities. Many of these people were abandoned and forced to live in bus and train stations, or to earn a living from begging, or were the victims of unscrupulous employers using child labour. John and Joy provide these boys with shelter, a family environment, duties and therefore a sense of purpose and crucially they provide them with a permanent and secure home. The focus in Morning Star is on self-esteem, education and skill building.
Morning Star has been an eye-opening experience for me; to the naked eye, it seems that the boys here don’t have much but in fact their lives are deeply enriched with the love, care and empathy that is being conveyed to them each and every day. They have developed indelible relationships and it is clear that all the boys see each other as brothers along with John and Joy as their Father and their Uncle. They have welcomed us into their home with open arms and made us feel part of the Morning Star Family.
Here in Morning Star, it is a lot more about the ‘being’ rather than the ‘doing.’ We have enjoyed spending time with everyone; taking the kids with disabilities out for a walk in their wheelchairs to playing sport outside with the school going boys to balloon making to face painting to colouring-in to sharing stories and of course, to simply spending precious
time with them. Although some of this time is spent in silence with eye contact and a smile being the only form of communication – the importance of which cannot be underestimated as many of these boys do not have interaction with the outside world. We have tried to capture some of these moments on camera and we printed out photographs for the boys to keep, after all, a picture does paint a thousand words.
As I sign off and get some well needed rest before what brings an emotional day, I am certain that I will never forget my time here nor will I forget the wonderful people that reside here. Morning Star is an amazing place and a place which I believe is very worthy of SERVE funding, the boys here have such a strong bond – it’s the biggest family I’ve ever seen. It brings to mind an Irish proverb; ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ – ‘Strength in Unity.’