Cliff Lattery of Vernon spends time with some of the children at an orphanage and school in Faridabad

Cliff Lattery of Vernon spends time with some of the children at an orphanage and school in Faridabad

Travelling to make a difference

Vernon resident Cliff Lattery finds that volunteering in a foreign country is a way of giving while getting so much more back

Cliff Lattery is one of many people who want to get involved but find their time is limited by work and family commitments. For him, the best way to give is spending his holidays on volunteer aid trips to places where his assistance is needed.

He went to Cambodia last year and has recently returned from helping at an orphanage and school in Faridabad, near Delhi, India.

“I love kids and I went there to spend time with the children, to help them with English and just to be with them,” said Lattery, who works in the housing industry and is the father of a nine-year-old daughter.

“I brought home a lot more than I gave. I feel humble that I was able to do this for these children.”

He did the trip through International Volunteers HQ, which set up everything, including a family home stay.

“This is the best way to get involved with a different lifestyle and culture. I was at the Miracle Charitable Society which runs the orphanage and school and they spoke English. It was a slum area where there was a lot of need. The children studied English but could not speak it so we got along with hand gestures and pictures. I played games — the boys like cricket — with the children and took some to a fair which they had never been to before. There were not many male volunteers so I got a lot of attention.”

Lattery saw a need for some basic items at the orphanage and was able to buy sheets, clothes, hygiene things, carpets to sit on and paint for a chalkboard at the school. When he saw children playing on the roof tops and jumping over four-foot gaps, he built a walkway for them.

“Everyone has something to gain from an experience like this, even though I realize this is not for everyone. I came home thinking that I was so grateful for what we have here, although I think we are missing a lot of family and neighbourhood bonding support,” he said.

“I want to continue to do this every year if I can. There was also a chance to see the country. I went to see the Taj Mahal one weekend. This kind of travel makes you more open-minded and understanding and interested in others. My passion is to have other people experience something like this. But you don’t have to go far away to help others. There is always need.”