She was a wallflower, set apart from the rest of the kids in that charity home. She was a wallflower yet her expressive eyes and the slight tilt to her face beckons me closer. It was an invitation drawing me near to her, to know more about her and the story those eyes would tell.

She was an orphan. Her mother left her when she was a baby to her aunt. She never knew her father. Currently, she resides in the corner of a sidewalk, seeking shelter under the roof of an old dilapidated building. Once in a while, she entertains the kind strangers from the charity home next door whenever they held events where there is free food and education. She said she wanted to be a singer. She told me all about her dreams – her dreams of studying and setting off into the world and becoming a well-known singer.

She was shy, opening herself up to a chosen few. I was one of the lucky ones she gave access to her thoughts and aspirations. She would light up whenever I’d come back to where she was seated. I took notice of her and then my attention was only on her. I listened to her stories, of stormy nights and seeking refuge under cardboard roofs, of her crazy neighbour who would raise his fist at cars driving on the road. I told her that dreams do come true but it isn’t as easy as it seems. I told her that perseverance and faith is necessary. Regardless of background, in the end, it will all boil down to how much you want it and how much you’re willing to do to get it. She listened intently, determination reflected in her soulful eyes.

It was time to go. I hugged her tight. I reminded her everything I said. I showered her with faith, hope and love – values that she needs to hold on to once she comes back to face the harsh realities of the world.

I went there to make an impact on the orphans who were expectant of what new things they will learn and what delicious food they could fill their stomachs with. She was set apart from them all, like a single red rose growing amongst a bed of white daisies. I wanted to change her, make her see the world with hope and faith for herself so her dreams could take flight regardless of her circumstance. But more than what I think I did to influence her, she changed me more than I ever expected to be.