Forget the picture card golden beaches and the beautiful lush green hills that Sri Lanka is famous for. By far the most memorable and meaningful highlight of my trip was joining Seam The World on their Friends of Courage visits to two different public children’s hospitals, including a burn unit, and a living center/school for the physically and mentally challenged.
Being able to support and be apart of giving Mr. Rabbit to children living in some of life’s most difficult circumstances was a special experience that will vividly stay with me forever. I will never forget how our visits completely changed the mood of the hospital room(s). When we entered the room(s) there was a timid, sacred, traumatized, shyness and withdrawal from the world in the children’s faces. As each child was given Mr. Rabbit grateful, and uplifting smiles of joy came alive and transformed the feeling of the room. A new lighter hearted sense of strength, courage, and hope filled the room and with it came the powerful realization that we can all do things to make the world a better place and that the gift of giving is the best gift that one can give and receive.
As I think back on my vacation, I can’t think of a better way that I could’ve spent my time or money. The chance to give Mr. Rabbit and the gift of friendship to 90 children was a life-changing experience. As a traveler visiting a new/different country it was important for me to see and connect to a part of the country and life besides the surface level tourist sites. Visiting the hospitals and a school for mentally and physically challenged people who have nowhere else to live and learn was a reminder that even in tourist paradises there are many other layers of life that exist and that need help and support. Being able to give Mr. Rabbit to these courageous children allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of Sri Lanka and what life is like for so many people. My heartfelt experience has inspired me to do all that I can to help Seam The World give the gift of friendship to as many children around the world as possible. I hope you will join me in spreading the magical gift of friendship to all those in need. – Emmanuel O’Kane