29 DecGetting to know… Callum & Mali (Part 2)

Before Christmas we introduced two special volunteers, Callum & Mali on our blog. You can read their introduction here: http://butterflyhospice.org/getting-know-callum-mali-part-1/

This blog is a follow on and discusses about the emotional side of volunteering in a children’s hospice.

“Dealing with feelings.

Feelings are the hardest part about spending time in the hospice. I have been very fortunate that so far, thanks to the great work of the nurses and Ayi’s, none of the children I have met have been overcome by their illnesses.

I have found myself overwhelmingly attached to two children at hospice, their names are Brian and Hailey. Brian was born with a variety of health complications. He was and still is the cutest baby I have ever seen! Always happy, always wanting to play and be with people. He isn’t old enough to walk but he did have a bouncer where he would spend a lot of time bouncing all over the home!

In August, Brian was sent to Beijing for surgery to help correct some of his health issues. Having him gone for so long with limited communication was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. You get used to the children, their personalities and behaviour. When one of them is missing, it’s very noticeable. It’s now mid-December and he is finally back in Changsha.

The other child is called Hailey, pictured, with myself and Mali. She likes to sleep, a lot. As in all the time! No matter what you are doing; holding her, reading to her, talking her for a walk, even feeding her, she falls asleep faster and with more ease than any human being I have ever met. She too was sent away, this time to Shanghai to receive life changing surgery. Saying goodbye, knowing she may not come back, such complicated surgery on someone so young always carries big risks, it felt awful.  With the lines of communication what they are and my remedial at best Chinese, leaving a child, any child to a fate unknown is the most powerless feeling I have ever felt. Fortunately, within a week Hailey was back in the hospice, having not needed such an invasive surgery so soon. Emotions were a rollercoaster ride that week.


When Brian returned he had to go back into the care of the orphanage . We can still go and see him, but that was a sobering experience. We were able to see how care is administered and run without the kind of values that Butterfly has. Not only this, but we were able to appreciate the loving and affectionate care that the Ayi’s give to the children at Butterfly even more.

Dealing with doing what needs to be done versus how you feel about it is hard, but you watch, and you learn, and you pay attention to the way the nurses and Ayi’s deal with their feelings, and how they maintain their own professionalism, and you do the same. Eventually you come to understand that the goal is to save the children’s lives, to get them healthy enough to be adopted or grow up in a setting more appropriate to them.


The level of respect I have for the nurses and Ayi’s is so high. They spend every moment of everyday with these children, loving them, playing with them, treating them with kindness and dignity, all while being ready for the child’s life to end, or in the best instance get healthy, so they can be adopted or taken care of elsewhere, allowing even more children to be cared for.

Not to mention they are all wonderfully nice people. Despite my Chinese being poor, everyone is always polite and talkative, interested in what is going on in my life, and patient with me when I can’t understand what they are trying to explain to me.

The future:

Being involved with the Butterfly Children’s hospice is something I would like to continue to do for as long as I am able. To care for a child is a very human experience, to care for these children is extraordinary, and I have the privilege of helping the people that do that.

Having spent a lot of time in various Chinese hospitals over the years, I can say that the Butterfly Home leads the way, both in terms of professionalism and cleanliness, and the giving of first-rate palliative care. The ideals of Love, Care, and Hope, set out by the charity, are not just words on paper, but an ideology you feel when you enter the place.

It is my hope that more people will offer their services to help. I don’t just mean by giving some money and considering charity as a bill that needs paying but by understanding the issues affecting these children, to raise awareness of what is going on, while seeking to better educate themselves and others. The care of all children, especially those at the end of their lives, should be done in a way that ensures the highest levels of dignity, patience and love possible—and Butterfly Home is the perfect example of that.”


Once again, thank you Callum & Mali for your dedication and commitment to our precious Butterflies. To find out how YOU can get involved and volunteer your time, skills or organise fundraising events, contact us at info@butterflyhospice.org.

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