Vietnam eye-opener for Tweed student
WHEN Anglican Grammar School student Max Whiticker travelled to Vietnam he had no idea how much it would change his life.
Going as part of a two-family group, he took donations for orphaned children.
"I had no idea of the number of orphans I would find," he said.
"I was astounded and really moved when I entered the orphanages.
"There were cots everywhere and it really struck me that so many little children had no-one to love and care for them."
Max nursed babies with encephalitis, who had no mothers' arms to comfort them.
"It was heart-rending as they looked up into my eyes," Max said.
"But I could see a flicker of knowledge and recognition in their eyes.
"Those experiences have profoundly affected my future, giving me a strong desire to help.
"It was incredibly confronting.
"It blew me away."
Max said he realised how privileged he is to live in Australia.
"It puts things in perspective," he said.
"It's hard to comprehend how a parent could abandon their child.
"But we have no perception of their lives or their reasons for doing it."
Max now wants to work in the community, and intends to take part in the next Salvation Army Doorknock Appeal.
"I guess charity does begin at home," he said.
"I really want to continue to help others.
"It isn't such a big thing to ask of a person
"A little compassion goes a long way."
Max recently took out the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award, having worked through the bronze and silver segments of the awards.
The Year 12 student was required to complete a skill, a sport and a community project as part of the challenge.
"I always wanted to learn to play the flute," he said.
"So that was the skill I took on."
Max chose soccer as his sport, also coaching eight-year-olds in the process.