When Carmel College old girl Loren O’Sullivan asked God where she could volunteer her services, he answered her the way millennials communicate these days: through Facebook.“I was thinking about volunteering overseas when I was studying to be a teacher in New Zealand. And I’ve always been quite interested about Latin American culture. I thought about doing a year or two volunteering in that area of the world,” said Miss O’Sullivan, who was appointed executive director of the New Zealand branch of Nuestro Pequenos Hermanos (Our Little Brothers and Sisters), at the start of this year.
“I did a lot of praying. I did a little bit of research; not a lot, to be honest,” she said. “I think praying works better because one day, I was just on Facebook, and this video popped up and it was of the child in an orphanage in Honduras.”
Watching the video and clicking on the link, she found that it was a Catholic organisation with a New Zealand office and volunteering opportunities.
“It was such a good fit. It was exactly what I was looking for. And it just had sort of turned up without really any effort,” she recalled.
She left New Zealand in 2012 and stayed in the NPH home in Honduras. There, she met a girl who inspired her to give more.
“When she was 13, she was abused by her uncle. And when he found out she was pregnant, he threw acid in her eyes. So she is now blind,” Miss O’Sullivan recounted.
NPH found this girl, her daughter, brothers and sisters, took them in and transformed their lives. The girl is studying to be a masseuse and the girl’s daughter is now in kindy.
“If there’s any evidence that NPH needs to be doing this thing, this would be it. That [situation] is kind of where our kids come from: worst case scenarios of abuse and abandonment, poverty and quite literally would not be alive without our help,” she told NZ Catholic.
NPH is a Catholic organisation founded in Mexico in 1954 by Fr William Wasson. It takes care of more than 3000 children, orphaned or abandoned, in its nine homes across Latin America. The children are supported through their vocational and university studies.
The executive director of NPH International, Miguel Venegas, grew up at NPH Mexico.
The NPH New Zealand office was founded in 2012 by Kristina Cavit, a former Kiwi volunteer at NPH Dominican Republic.
Miss O’Sullivan is now going parish to parish, asking Massgoers to support the organisation by sponsoring a child. Recently she made a presentation at St Joseph’s parish in Takapuna and came away grateful for the response she received.
“I feel so blessed that the Catholic community came on board and really saw a need somewhere and are talking about it. I’d like to say thank you to the community,” she said.
“The best thing that people can do is sponsor a child. The money goes directly to the home [to] help in medical care, with nutrition, shelter and education [of the child],” she explained.
Ten dollars — “equivalent to one glass of wine” — she noted, donated every week would make a lot of difference to the child, who would know that someone in the world cared for him or her.