One of AFC’s volunteers on the ground in Ethiopia, Michelee Horsley, shares here about her experience with the children and working on one of AFC’s newest programs, the Art Heals project. Come to AFC’s 7th Annual Art Auction Benefit in DC to learn more and to join the AFC family yourself!
My AFC Experience
I first learned about AFC in 2010 through my college friend and sorority sister. Immediately, I was amazed and inspired by the things I heard about the organization and what it was doing for these children and for the community. However, I would have never guessed the impact that it would have on my personal life and development as a community leader. As a first time expat, I had no idea how I would adjust to life abroad so many miles away from home and my family, the people I know and love. However, I have managed to gain a whole new family that is just as loving and nurturing as the one I experienced growing up. From surprising me with songs to celebrate my 25th birthday, to having me participate in holiday traditions with them, I have felt nothing less than love and appreciation.
I am currently directing the ART HEALS project at a local hospital, where we are painting and decorating the walls of the children’s ward. The thanks and praise that the volunteers and I receive while working are truly priceless; it is a great joy to see the immediate impact that we have on the patients and staff. Seeing the poor conditions of the government hospitals is another big inspiration for wanting to be a part of this project. Community service is a huge part of my life and being able to give in such a unique way has been an amazing experience that I will never forget.
In the Home
The children and staff at the AFC home and I have formed a bond so strong that I cannot imagine what my life will be like once I have to leave. The children look to me as an older sister and have the greatest respect for me. The countless nights we spend watching Korean television shows, playing card games, painting nails, and doing hair are truly a joy. As a self-proclaimed artist, I have experience in several different crafts, and most of the children have been very anxious to learn all that I am willing to share. Over the summer break, I taught a few of the girls how to crochet and we even formed a business to sell our handmade goods! I have also enjoyed learning things from them such as traditional dances, music, and the language. Thanks to them, my Amharic is very decent for someone who couldn’t speak one word of the language upon arrival.
Within the four months that I have spent here, we’ve celebrated several birthdays and even a high school graduation for two of the young ladies! It is truly a blessing to witness these young, intelligent children striving for greatness and not seeing their situation as an obstacle, but using their experience to inspire and encourage others. Thanks to the founder, Abezash, the staff, volunteers, and of course the children, I am touched in a way that I had never experienced before.