Alumni Spotlight: Chloe Kincaid

Chloe Kincaid is a 19 year old girl from Newcastle, Australia. She currently has two casual jobs, working in retail at Lowes Menswear and as a kitchen hand at her local Golf Club, and is a full time student at Newcastle University completing a Bachelor of Primary Teaching and Early Childhood. Chloe would like to teach and work in school and orphanage development both in Australia and overseas while continuing to pursue her budding passion for photography.

What inspired you to volunteer abroad with IVHQ in Ghana?

Chloe piggy-backing Charity to school from the orphanage.

Chloe: I have a few reasons for choosing to volunteer with IVHQ in Ghana.

I have just started my second year of University doing a Bachelor of Teaching Primary/Early Childhood so this related to my choice of program (initially teaching and orphanage care, although I ended up just doing orphanage care).

I had been looking around for an organisation to volunteer overseas with since the end of 2011 when I was starting year 12 at school and I found IVHQ was not only the most affordable but the most alluring, supportive and friendly.

However, as strange as it sounds, it was ultimately Cambodia that inspired me to have this experience in Ghana.

I got really interested in social justice work and the work of organisations like World Vision when I was about 15 years old and did what I could through my school, however the two week immersion trip I later went on with 5 other students and four teachers in 2011 was the biggest catalyst for my desire to continue doing work with people overseas.

In Cambodia we spent time at a school in Phnom Penh for disabled Cambodian students, run by two Marist Brothers with connections to my school. We focussed on physical skills and rehabilitation including hand-eye co-ordination, swimming and sporting games. The kids were amazing and they touched my heart more than I could ever have been prepared for.

We also did a bit of touring however the kind of touring was the kind that was very eye opening. This was the first time I had been overseas and the first time I had seen and heard about firsthand the experiences and hardships of other people living in so called ‘developing’ or ‘third world’.

Another huge influence was social justice photographer Conor Ashleigh. He is an ex student of my high school who attended the same immersion trip I did a few years earlier. I have learnt a lot from him from our short conversations and his photography inspires me in every way a person can be inspired.

Having a big and growing interest in photography at the time, he has also influenced the type of photography I am most passionate about and way I take photos.

One thing he taught me that I have never forgotten was that terms like ‘developing countries’ can become a problem. He said that one of the most important things to do when you are working with people in their home countries, is to put the knowledge and power in their hands.

As opposed to using words like ‘developed’ and ‘developing’, where we and the way we live are depicted as the best way to be, he told me that ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ countries could be better coined terms. After all, the amount of ‘developed’ countries is far less than that of ‘developing’. This would help put the power in their hands and could make a huge difference.

What was one of the most memorable moments of the trip?

Chloe and Agnes became close friends during Chloe's time in Ghana.

Chloe: There were so many beautiful and telling moments that happened in my month there it is difficult to rummage through them all in my mind and pick one that is the most memorable.

However there is one that does come to mind. It was simple but it stuck with me and that was one of the moments I remember thinking that whatever else happened on the trip that moment made it worth every cent I spent and worth every second of waiting and planning.

One of the little girls at the orphanage (I won’t give names) was sick and has been coughing and sweating with fevers. She was one of the 15 or so that had been diagnosed with malaria and she was only about four so as you could imagine she was pretty upset about it all as well.

While sitting at the table inside with a group of other kids drawing and colouring in she fell asleep on me with her face against my chest and she was really hot and sweaty. I decided to move away from all the noise and go and wet a cloth I had brought with the water from the tank and put it on her back to keep her cool.

I sat in a chair that was on its own inside with her still sleeping on me and eventually I got tired too and also started to fall asleep.

Even though she was sweaty and I was sweaty, and my bum was going numb from sitting for so long in a metal chair, and she wiped snot all over me as she moved her face it was a moment I wouldn’t change for the world; just two girls from two different worlds, sleeping together with intermingled limbs and nothing between us but love.

Tell us about one person you met.

 Ruben, Chloe and Joseph before Chloe's departure.

Chloe: One of the people I met that had one of the biggest impacts on me was a 14 year old boy at the orphanage.

I don’t feel entirely comfortable getting into much detail about him but I will say that even after 11 years in the Catholic school system he opened me up to and taught me more about God, faith, hope and true empathy for other people than I ever learned in school.

Bonds and loves like that cannot be taught. You have to experience them to believe they really exist.

What do you miss most about your time in Ghana?

Chloe: The people for sure. Being able to go to sleep and wake up to them and their laughs and screams and cries. I miss constantly having my hand held and having arms wrapped around my torso.

It began to feel like home. And they started to feel like my family. I miss being able to feel those things while I was so far away and so alien from my physical home and my technical family.

How has this experience impacted your future?

The walk into little lady bonding.

Chloe: Personally the experience has done a lot for me. I think mentally I have grown a lot just from embarking on a trip like that on my own.

It has made me feel much more equipped to deal with things physically, mentally and emotionally and I feel a lot stronger as a person and a lot less afraid of the world around me. And I think that is incredibly important and it is something you just can’t put a price on.

I also feel even more open to new ideas and experiences and I am just so glad and excited that the experience really reinforced my ambitions about where I want to take my life and my future and what I want to do once I finish my degree.

My first trip was a huge catalyst and was the stepping stone to what I believed I wanted to do in the future and my first solo trip to Ghana was either going to make or break what I thought I wanted to do. It definitely made it and I know that I am heading in the right direction.

The beautiful and sometimes challenging experience with the kids at the orphanage I think has also given me more confidence and belief in myself and what I can handle, which will help me when I go on my first official practical placement for my Early Childhood course at University.

I think each person and each moment and each time you travel somewhere different and somewhere new you transform in some way. This experience is definitely proof of that and it was so beautifully and beyond worth it.