Johanna Stumpf

I am a young professional from Germany. Beginning of this year I started the most exciting journey - a journey to myself. My volunteer experience was a milestone on my journey. My passion lies in the joy of engaging with people. Making a difference for others, constantly growing and going out of my comfort zone to do a great is my devotion. I love being with people who think out of the box, people with attitude and courage who engage life experience with a learning attitude.

Why did you pick this program?

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I wanted to work etiher with kids or to do a program to encourage women. I haven't been to Africa before and I was very keen in getting to know Ghana, volunteer.org had sounded very good as a host organization. I appreciate their principas and values. They offer a lot of kids projectys to work with kids.

To be in an orphanage I thought would be a chance to really give something to the less fortunate in this world. I wanted to give, i wanted to make them feel loved. That was my goal and the thought of it was encouraging my decision.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

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I am an explorer and prefer to get lost in the experience. I do not prepare that much in advance usually, as I learned that you live more in the moment and make the most of it without expectations.

However, I would have loved to know more about the children and their needs. There were two babies for example and they were lacking of some basic stuff. Knowing that in advance would have given me the chance to bring more stuff for them. I would have loved a list with things they need where I can see or choose what to bring them.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

They taught me what pure love means and I started to see their life through their eyes. I suddenly did not see anymore what they are missing but instead how fortunate they are. Love is the core basic of all human beings, the most amazing thing in this world.

It is so fundamental that when you feel it you can be happy with the simplest form of living as everything else seems worthless. What the kids at the orphanage have given me goes far beyond what I could give them. They filled my heart with pure love and I am so full of it that I cannot put it in words. I truly feel blessed.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I always encourage my friends to travel and go abroad. Volunteering is the most rewarding "work" I have done in my life. Dedicate your time and love to other people without expecting anything back is something everyone should experience once in his life. Yes we do have to spent some money, but it is the best investment.

Those moments when I made someone smile or laugh then everything was so worth it. I felt pure joy when these kids looked at me with their eyes full of life and love. My heart melted and they made me want to do so much more for them.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

I am always excited to go abroad and to have the chance to experience an new country and culture. The Visa application took more time and is a bit of work than for other countries.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

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The older kids were so hungry for knowledge and wanted to learn as much new things as possible. So great to see!

What impressed me even more was the responsibility for each other. The older ones were taking care about the smaller ones with such seriousness and an ease that I wish more people in the world could feel that for each other. This bond and love is remarkable. Family that is not blood related and not chosen, but happens to be most profound and unconditional love every single one of them deserves.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

Everyone is so connected with each other; It’s hard to tell where family ends and mere visitors begin! Some part of me felt I was leaving a home there. Everyone I got to know has taken me into their lives and families as though I truly belonged.