Three students spend winter break volunteering in orphanage in Ghana


Bearden students Emily Carlevato (left), Kendall Scott (middle), and Chandler Alaniz (right) spent a week in Ghana over winter break.

Fatima Bhidya, Staff Writer

Bearden students always find interesting ways to spend their winter breaks like binge-watching their favorite Netflix shows or shredding the slopes at nearby ski resorts with their friends and family, but a handful of Bearden students decided to do something a little different.

Senior Kendall Scott, junior Emily Carlevato, and sophomore Chandler Alaniz set out on a journey across the world to the country of Ghana the day after Christmas.

Carlevato’s mom works with Feeding the Orphans, an organization that helps orphans and single moms raise money for school and other basic necessities. When Carlevato’s mom asked the girls to come along to help in an orphanage run by Great Mission International, these Bearden students jumped at the opportunity.

After a long journey from Knoxville, through Detroit and Amsterdam, they spent a week in the west African country and that was all it took for these Bearden students to partake in a life-changing experience.

“We just got to learn a lot of stuff and experience new things like the environment, like seeing how these kids live,” Alaniz said.

Their typical day consisted of waking up around 7 a.m. and fueling up on a breakfast comprised of a loaf of bread and hot tea. Then they were greeted by the children of the orphanage and would spend the day playing with them and teaching them new things. They bought along crafts for the kids to do and helped them create skits.

“Every morning when Emily, Chan, and I walked out of our room, the kids sprinted to us to hug us and tug us in a million different directions to play games with them,” Scott said. “Their eyes filled with excitement to see us, and their smiles stretched from ear to ear.”

On New Year’s Eve, they attended a Church service from 8 p.m. to midnight. They spent four hours worshipping with the children and celebrated the New Year with them.

Coming back to the United States, they bought along little tokens of Africa with them. The bracelets they made and wear every day and the pictures they took are constant reminders of their trip. Recently, they had the chance to FaceTime and talk to the kids.

They also came back with important life lessons of love and patience that they learned and carry with themselves every day.

“This trip impacted me in a lot of different ways, but the biggest thing it impacted was my deeper understanding on the concept of love,” Scott said. “The kids left a huge mark on my heart and demonstrated God’s love more evidently than I think I have ever seen.”

The three students plan on returning to Africa to visit their new friends and are already trying to plan another trip to go back next year.