Colleen Laughlin talks about her experience at Hill Crest

Sunflower kids love the volunteersMy first day walking into Hill Crest was the most overwhelming thing I have ever experienced. But overwhelming in the best way possible. As soon as I walked into the first classroom half of the kids ran up to me and started fighting over my hand. The love these kids can give to a total stranger they just met is amazing.

When I first started volunteering at Hill Crest there were over 100 kids and I had no clue how I was going to get to know all of them, let alone learn all of their names! But after my four months there, I’m so privileged to have been able to form a connection with all of those kids. Whether they were in the older class and could have a whole conversation with me in English, or in the baby class and knew little to no English, there is NO way to not love these kids. And seeing Elisabeth there everyday, even while she was pregnant, doing everything she can for them was so heartwarming and inspiring.

My first day at Hill Crest one of the older kids, Obedi, was sick. I tagged along with one of the previous volunteers to bring him porridge. After being in his small house where they cook inside, making it hard breathe, and knowing they have to sleep in there too, it opened my eyes. Even living like this, he still has the biggest smile during the school day whenever you give him a hug or a high five when he did his math homework. Moments like this made me SO happy about my decision to leave my comfort zone in the U.S and come meet these kids.

ombdi and momAfter being there for four months though and realizing more and more how amazing all of the kids are, leaving them was the hardest thing I have ever done. I knew I would cry- I even tried to prepare myself, but I didn’t realize just how heartbreaking it was. Not seeing their huge smiles everyday. The only thing that made me ok with leaving them, is knowing that as soon as I can I will be coming back!

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