x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Schoolgirls' trip to help Ghana orphans

Three Abu Dhabi schoolgirls will help build and paint a local orphanage and help children with their homework.

ABU DHABI // Three schoolgirls are planning a two-week humanitarian trip to help orphans in Ghana.

Natasha Topolski, Kirsten Brackett and Francine Leech, all 17, from the American Community School in Abu Dhabi will travel to Accra in June. They will teach English and maths to children aged between four and 11.

The trip is being organised by Projects Abroad, a New-York based volunteering company that sends some 6,000 students a year on humanitarian trips. The American girls will be accompanied by 15 other students from around the world.

"We're going to be active teachers' assistants as a support for the kids," said Natasha. "We want to allow them to have fun because there aren't many people there to give them comfort."

The classmates will help build and paint a local orphanage, help children with their homework and work with them at different care centres.

The trip was inspired by a Global Issues Network Conference at the girls' school in February, when 200 pupils discussed potential solutions for global issues.

"It really taught us how to make a difference," said Natasha.

The girls have long been active in humanitarian causes, participating in fund raising events organised by Doctors Without Borders.

Last year they sold sweets for Dh5 each and sent the proceeds to Heifer International, a charity that aims to help end world hunger.

In November they travelled to India where they helped build houses for eight families hit by floods in Pondicherry.

"We have been working very hard to make this trip happen," added Natasha, "but we are in need of financial support for projects there."

To that end they have been raising funds with events including a spring break festival with scavenger hunts. They are also looking for sponsors.

The group is also involved in charitable organisations such as Doctors Without Borders, an international medical aid charity, and Habitat for Humanity, which builds sustainable housing for people in need.

cmalek@thenational.ae