SMC alumnae volunteer in Ghana
Haleigh Ehmsen | Monday, January 27, 2014
Listening to people’s stories is one of the best gifts Saint Mary’s alumna Monica Murphy said she has received through the College’s post-graduate service program.
Murphy, a social work major, said she arrived in Ghana last August and will teach at Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa until mid-June.
Murphy said she decided to spend the year in Ghana because she has always been a service-oriented person.
“Serving in Africa has been a dream for years, as the stories of the children touched me in a personal way,” Murphy said.
The program in Ghana allows Murphy to gain experience in many different aspects of school life, she said.
“I am teaching a few English classes to the ‘Basic One’ students, another term for first grade,” Murphy said. “[I] am also doing social work, which involves meeting with students individually and sometimes their parents.”
Murphy said she also serves as the school’s librarian, with the help of another volunteer. She and other volunteers brought suitcases full of books when they arrived in August to replace the old, torn copies currently in the school’s possession, she said
“In the library, I am reading to students and am helping them expand their reading vocabulary,” Murphy said. ”The students love when I read to them.”
Working with the nursery class is also a part of Murphy’s service, she said.
“In nursery, I sing songs with the kids, play with them on the playground, and assist in creative art activities,” Murphy said. “I sometimes feed them during lunch. They are so cute, I cannot help [but] baby them.”
But by far, Murphy said her most treasured experience has been watching the children grow and interact with each other.
“The children here appreciate the smallest things, like bubbles. [They] serve as a reminder of what is truly important in life,” Murphy said. “Having the opportunity to capture some of their dreams, hopes, challenges and fears has allowed me to live through their eyes. It is beyond gratifying.”
Helping the school’s children take control of their futures has been rewarding for her, Murphy said.
“They are born leaders and can tackle their dreams, despite any obstacle,” she said. “When we show children love, they are more motivated to reach for their dreams, to think differently about their lives, believe with a can-do attitude, have boundless courage and in a way are more inspired to recapture their goals.
Murphy said her experience in Ghana has helped her to live a more meaningful life and inspired her to maintain and build relationships.
“Relationships are one of the greatest gifts of all,” she said. “I see many people living with empty souls, focused on the wrong things in life. I love the stories people tell, especially here in Ghana, and have been inspired by their wisdom.”
Most of all, Murphy said her time thus far in Ghana has guided her spirituality, as well.
“In life, we are called to respond to the Gospel — for me that was traveling across the world, into the unfamiliar,” Murphy said.