Jackie Kobelt

Nationality: Swiss
Age: 32

What was your volunteer program and how long did you stay in Ghana? I stayed 3 months in an orphanage and came back 2 times to do the same thing again for less time.

Why did you want to volunteer? I needed a time out from work and wanted to do something with children.

What was your experience like with VAF? It was a big adventure with ups and downs. At the beginning it was a culture shock for me! But then I met those wonderful children and all the other people from VAF. There are far too many problems in Ghana, but somehow I adopted the African way and enjoyed my time. Those inspiring and smart kids touched my heart and I will never forget them.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt whilst in Ghana? No matter where you are from, to which religion you belong to and what colour your skin has, we are all the same!!

Our life in the Western World is too fortunate. Most of us don't appreciate all the good things we have… It's a good experience to live in Africa, where electricity and running water is not 'normal'. I really enjoyed the daily cold bucket shower while I was in Ghana.

I always had the feeling that the Ghanaians are much happier than the people from home. Most of them have nothing or just enough to survive. We can also learn a lot from them.

What are you doing now? I'm an assistant in a lawyer's office. I'm raising funds for VAF within my family, friends and working place regularly. I know that small things can change a lot in Ghana. I will go back to Ghana again.

Do you think your time in Ghana with VAF helped shape your life path? Yes, definitely. All the smiles and giggles healed my broken heart and reminded me of the important things in life. I have experienced various difficult situations in Ghana where I couldn't do anything to help. Very frustrating, but the best way to learn.

What would you say to anyone wishing to volunteer abroad? I would say "just do it, but do it right".

Jackie has raised almost $10,000 since her first time in Ghana and without her constant fundraising efforts many of the children we work with would not be where they are today.