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Open Source. For Life.

Life consists of all kinds of experiences. Some experiences are common, and we can go through them every day. Having a tasty meal. Sitting in traffic. Chatting with friends. Watching a good movie. These kinds of moments make up 97% of our lives. We don't think too much about these moments, they just happen.

Then there are those other experiences. The first day at a new job. The last day at an old job. A spectacular vacation far away. Getting married. Graduating from college. These things complete the last 3% of our lives. But these moments don't just come and disappear, they stay with us. We never forget these moments, and they eventually become part of how we think and how we live. Experiences that define who we are. Here are some 3% experiences that I'd like to share with you.

Above are a few of the 70+ children who live at Shepherd's Field Children's Village a foster home in China that goes all out to provide care, housing, education, and adoption opportunities for orphans with special needs. Miraculously, they are a private, non-profit organization. And Shepherd's Field has definitely seen some miracles. For example, back in 2002 when searching for land to build their facility on, the government offered them property for a price of 1 RMB, equivalent to 12 US cents. A far cry from the appraised value of $150,000. And for the last 12 years they've recieved many other acts of generosity. International doctors regularly visit the facility to donate their skills and time. Companies have donated millions into a new vocational education building that's being built. Every miracle that supports the foundation, supports the kids.

And here are a some of the faces from a group of Liferay employees in our China office who visited Shepherd's Field a couple weeks ago. None of us knew what to expect from the trip, but we prepared some games, crafts, and songs that the kids really enjoyed. But I don't think we could've done anything to prepare for the huge impression that these kids made on us during our time with them. I want to share these impressions with you too:

These kids know how to love.
The word I heard all week was "gēge" (哥哥). Gēge! Gēge! Gēge! (almost rhymes with "burger") The children would keep shouting this to us, starting from the very first day. I feel like I started to hear this word in my sleep! It means "older brother". For the girls in the group, they would always hear Jiějiě (姐姐), which means "older sister". The kids would say this to me, and would always be lifting their arms just like this:

The children always wanted us to hold and carry them. As the group videographer, so many times I was trying to film the kids, but I had to stop because they would shout gēge to me and reach out to me. They didn't even know who I was, but I know it didn't matter to them. That's just how trusting, and innocent they are. They are not afraid, they have no inhibitions. They just love to be held, they love to play, they love to connect. Some kids were even very considerate to us, making sure that we weren't too hot or uncomfortable during play time. We were all really surprised by how caring they were.

These kids are truly happy.
I will never forget this boy I got to spend time with in one of the houses. He always sat on the floor and played with a rubik's cube. I sat in front of him, and right away he gave me this little plastic duck so I could play next to him. I tried talking to him, but he was very quiet. I don't remember how it happened, but I took the duck and walked it across his back, making quacking sounds. He couldn't stop laughing and laughing. If I stopped, then he would take the duck and put it back in my hands, gesturing for me to keep on tickling him with the duck.

I later saw him sitting in a wheelchair, and I realized that he can't walk, and for whatever reason he is unable to speak much. But I feel like he had a smile on his face every time I saw him. On the very last day, I went back to his house to give him my last goodbye. When he saw me, he smiled and quacked at me just like when I was playing with him days before. That moment, I will remember forever.

From the outside it feels like these orphans don't have much. They don't have money, or gadgets, or lots of toys. They don't have their actual families. We thought that we would have to work hard to bring light and joy into their lives. But we quickly realized that they are already full of joy. The children are well cared for, they have everything they need. They have good food everyday, they have comfortable homes, and they have each other, the caretakers, the teachers, and the staff as their family. A huge 24/7 family. And they even have visitors like us who visit each week and play, play, play with them. They are never alone! These children have very little to worry about. It was amazing to spend time with them.

Meeting these kids can change your life.
They don't have many of the creature comforts that we have, and they live with different disabilities - yet they are happy. Genuinely happy. The result is that their happiness feels very pure, and innocent. That kind of happiness is infectious. We went to the orphanage to love on the children, but it almost felt like the opposite - the staff and kids wanted to show love to us.

The whole trip was really inspiring and heartfelt. Many of us reflected on ways that we can be more loving towards our own friends, family, and coworkers. We even had a group chatroom with the whole team, and we were sending beautful photos to each other even after everyone already went back home:

I hope this post has been encouraging and helps you see a bit more of what Liferay the company is doing to help communities across the globe. For more info about Shepherd's Field Children's Village and how you might be able to get involved, visit: http://www.chinaorphans.org/

Amazing, encouraging and humbling. Thanks for sharing this, Ron!
I can FEEL every word you wrote/shared, Ron. Thank you for sharing your words and photos.