In late May and early June 2019, a team of volunteers from Chestnut Hill College and Marywood University will travel to the West African nation of Ghana under the auspices of African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC). Participants will serve in three organizations in the Cape Coast region:
- Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School (MQPCS) led by Sr. Mary Ann Matachinskas, serves about 300 children ages 2-14
- Cornelia Connelly School of the Holy Child Jesus, led by Sr. Louisa Huni-Dadzie, SHCJ, serves about 200 children 1.5-11 years old.
- The Padre Pio Rehabilitation Center, led by Mark Mantey, is a rehabilitation center for children and adults.
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In preparation for the service learning adventure, the team members will pursue a three-credit course on serving in a developing nation, with a special focus in Ghana and on the ministries the students will undertake. Course sessions will be shared by the two schools, either by live video contact or by video recording and sharing. The students will also work at vigorous fundraising to defray the cost of the trip.
Several of the participants are studying the various areas of education, a career preparation that will serve well in the project. One of the team members will have completed his doctorate in an education field by the time the team departs for Ghana. Others are involved in Music Therapy, Speech Therapy, Art and Special Education; all useful for serving the persons being care for at the schools and center.
Some of the directors of the schools have suggested services the students can offer. These include:
- working in Early Childhood from nursery through age 6
- teaching rhymes, songs, dances; teaching soccer and volleyball
- coaching elementary students in English, math, science and art
- helping to set up a Reading Center
Participants will stay in a hospitality house run by a religious congregation nearby. It's close to all of the sites and volunteers will have bus transportation throughout the duration of the trip. It should be a busy but joyous experience for all.
The Marywood mentor will be Dr. Melinda Krokus, Associate Professor of Religious Studies; the Chestnut Hill mentor is Dr. Nicole Monteiro, Assistant Professor of Psychology. Two Catholic Sisters from the congregations that sponsor ASEC will also be joining the group. Sr. Francisca Damoah, SSJ, the ASEC Country Director for Ghana, has provided invaluable assistance for the planning of the trip and will continue to offer local guidance for the implementation of the program.
Participants will be involved in much hard work and effort as they involve themselves in this worthy activity. But the joy, excitement, and wisdom they will experience far exceed the challenges they will face. Students are told as they begin the process that “You will leave your heart in Africa.” By the time they return to the US, they always agree.