By Eric Harvey
Can you imagine being an orphan and having to grow up without your family to raise you? Living in an orphanage with a limited amount of food on the table? Staying in a room with multiple kids you’re not even related to?
That situation is all too common in the world. In fact, there are 17.8 million children worldwide who have lost both parents, according to the Christian Alliance for Orphans. That’s more than double New York City’s population.
This problem is especially present in Africa. Senior Tajae Faxon experienced that firsthand, when he traveled to the continent to help kids that are less fortunate.
Tajae spent a month and nine days over the summer in Africa, including two weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Ghana. “Spending a few weeks working in Ghana was a life-changing experience,” the senior said.
He recalls it being upsetting that the children were in an orphanage, because it was hard seeing kids who needed family support but didn’t have it throughout the course of their lives.
“Knowing that I was helping out a new generation of kids who grew up without parents, I was like a guardian to them,” Tajae said.
“I had fun working with the kids there. We made arts and crafts [and] played games, which were sports like soccer, volleyball, badminton. We watched movies and more.”
Tajae traveled to Africa by himself. He stayed at the house of a family friend, who is the one who reached out to Tajae to volunteer at the Agape Academy International Orphanage.
Tajae felt that the whole trip was a great experience. He learned to help those in need and enjoyed his time in a different region.
Of course, it came with challenges, which included adjusting to a different culture and a new country. Tajae said it wasn’t all that difficult “because I’ve spent time away from the U.S. many, many times,” previously visiting places like China, Japan and Jamaica.
“I did experience homesickness,” he said, “but it was faint.”
While working at the Agape Academy International Orphanage, Tajae said he felt close to all the kids. He also had a close connection to one of the adults at the orphanage, who answered Tajae’s questions and was always overjoyed to see Tajae. He also helped Tajae learn how to become more of a leader.
After volunteering at the orphanage, Tajae said he vacationed in Malta, which is an island located directly below Italy, for about two weeks.
Tajae plans to keep in touch with everyone from the orphanage, and hopes to see them again sometime in the next few years by taking part in a study abroad program in college.
He said that this trip changed him for the better. He feels more motivated to help people in need and now appreciates what he has even more. “I feel satisfied knowing that I helped even a small portion of the new generation,” Tajae said.
When asked whether the whole experience has made an impact on his outlook on life, he responded by saying, “It most certainly has because this trip is a memory that I will never forget.”