Goffstown graduate makes an international effort of volunteering
Goffstown's Lizzy Girard, seen with two young girls — Nangoma and Tio — on a volunteer trip to Zambia, will return to Africa in September. (Courtesy)
Girard, 18, spent nine weeks this spring volunteering at City of Joy, a home for girls in Mazabuka, Zambia. She found out about City of Joy from a friend of one of her sisters, who had also volunteered there. Her experience was intriguing to Girard.
“I flew there by myself, which scared my parents a lot,” she said. “My mom especially was so supportive, even though it scared her to send her 18-year-old alone to Africa. She made sure I didn’t forget to pack anything, including comfort food like mac and cheese.”
“When I got there, I sat in the middle of a room, and all these girls sang and danced around me, [saying] ‘Welcome to the family, we’re so glad that you have come…We know you came because you love us, and we love you, too,’” she said.
While most Zambians she met spoke Tonga, Nyanja and Bemba, children are educated in English. Three of the girls who were new at City of Joy when Girard started spoke no English.
On the night before she left, one of the girls she taught English had a major breakthrough.
“She goes, ‘Eliza, thank you for caring every day,’” she said. “That was the most English I ever heard her say, because when we got there, they literally could not say a word of English. So the night before I left, after two months, for her to say a full English sentence — it was amazing.”
Girard’s nine weeks in Mazabuka were so life-changing that, even though she had already been accepted to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, she opted to defer her first semester and return to City of Joy this upcoming September.
Girard, who has decided to study psychology after interacting with girls with post-traumatic stress disorder at City of Joy, communicated with her professors at Benedictine about her situation. They assured her that not only should she return, but that her volunteering could be counted as credit toward her degree if she keeps a journal of the experience.
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