My experience on the January 2011 Hope For the Silent Voices’ Impact trip was truly amazing. The sights and sounds of both Cambodia and Sri Lanka will be a part of me for the remainder of my journey within this world. More importantly however, the lessons learned on this trip will forever change the way I live my journey. This trip truly allowed the group to be witness to the best and worst of humanity. We witnessed the tragedy of genocide on a scale never imagined while at the Killing Fields. We witnessed the tragedy of amazing kids and adults simply being discarded and abandoned by those who are entrusted to care for them. We also witnessed gracefulness and beauty by those same discarded folks. Beauty in that these folks continuously had smiles on their faces and welcomed us with open and loving arms. Grace in that, if observant enough, these folks taught us life lessons that are only learned thru the horrifying events they have endured. Life lessons of how to love, how to have hope for the future when everything is stacked against us and how to persevere when there are no incentives to do so. The residents of both the Lighthouse Orphanage and the Sambodhi Home truly serve as the best of humanity because of everything they have to offer to the “more fortunate.”
I began this journey thinking that I was going to have a certain type of experience. I already had a blueprint in my mind of how the trip was going to unfold. I am happy to say that this trip far exceeded any expectations and blueprints that I had beforehand. I vividly remember the days leading up to the trip, thinking I was a wall of steel in which the experiences I was about to endure would not break me down. I was viewing the world thru a narrow tunnel. This trip allowed me to expand my vision of this world, expand upon my compassion for humanity and expand my ability to love. For all of you that may be considering a trip of this nature, I say stop considering! Stop debating the merits to which a trip of this magnitude will help. Stop debating as to whether or not you are financially able to go. I can assure you that this trip, led by these leaders (Sherry & Eric), will forever change you in a way you currently may not even realize exists or think even possible.
Michael Justin Smith
Winter Impact Trip 2011