HCC Volunteer Experience

Paola Bartolacci: 2007 to 2008

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As I reflect on my time spent in Ghana I am filled with many fond memories, memories that I hope I will never forget. The tiny town of Sandema, rich with warm people and smiling faces that are always eager to help the “white lady,” the bluster of market day, the strange smells that eventually become comforting , and of course the mad rush to the Bolga bus, that was always “coming soon.”

These are a few of the everyday memories that come flooding back. Although precious, these memories do not compare to those that I have of HCC and the time I was lucky enough to have spent with the amazing children. Everyday brought a new and fulfilling challenge, from cooking and showering, to teaching lessons to the boys, and of course trying desperately to score a goal while playing soccer with some of the best players I have ever played with!

I initially thought I would be a world of knowledge for the boys, however, I quickly realized that THEY would be a world of knowledge for me. Opening up new ideas and perspectives I would never have seen on my own. The children at HCC are all so special; they truly are a family and care about one another. It was inspiring to see the kindness they have for each other. They sleep, eat, and bathe, go to school and play together. Seeing how they interact with one another was humbling.

The children are lucky to have a great mentor whom they all look up to, Joe, the Program Coordinator, who is an amazing person. Joe has a way of connecting with people that is unlike anyone I know. It is apparent that the children really respect Joe and strive to become successful like him.

Because I have a passion for education I decided to focus on reading skills and comprehension with the boys. Each week, each boy was to read one book to me and we would talk about the book together. After doing this they would get a star by their name! They loved this idea and they knew there was a reward for them at the end of my stay. The boys told me that this exercise made them feel confident; they felt more able to pick up a book and read it. Hearing that was such a wonderful feeling, I felt as though perhaps I HAD taught them something!

Also during my time at HCC, I was able to help organize the first HCC scholarship for girls. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit all the schools in the Builsa district and encourage girls to apply, emphasizing that grades were not the only factor in determining a recipient for the award. This program took some time to take off but I am so proud to have been a part of its process.

Anyone who visits HCC will be met with great warmth. The children at HCC are truly blessed to be a part of the center; this becomes evident after spending any amount of time there.