FEATURE — A dedicated and inspiring young woman from Santa Clara is embarking on a four-week-long volunteer program in Suva, Fiji, Thursday where she will be working with Kindergartners.
Chelsea Hatch, 19, will be volunteering with New Zealand-based group International Volunteer HQ. The group works in over 30 countries throughout the world placing over 1,000 volunteers abroad each year.
“I’ve been looking a lot into the organization and it’s like a really good organization so I’m excited,” Hatch said.
Established in 2007, the group, according to its “about us” Web page, believes in a future where travelers around the world are empowered to make a difference in the community they are visiting.
During Hatch’s first week in Fiji, she will be learning all about the country taking local language lessons and learning local cooking methods. She will also take a tour of the area and attend a welcoming ceremony, International Volunteer HQ Program Manager Hannah Hill-Parker said.
During Chelsea’s time on the project she will be supporting the local children in Fiji by working at a community Kindergarten placement. The placements are not only understaffed but also under-resourced. During her time in Fiji Chelsea will lead classes in her own lessons while providing a new cultural insight to these children, as well as providing one-on-one support to those with a shorter attention span or those who otherwise might get left behind in their education.
Many parts of Fiji are largely funded by tourism, Hill-Parker said, but Suva is an area that has a lot of Fijians but does not receive the same amount of tourist attention and funding.
Just by Hatch choosing this program destination – using local accommodations, eating locally and working with local staff members who help run the accommodations and coordinate the programs – she is helping more than just the Kindergartners in her placement, Hill-Parker said.
“So I’ve like always wanted to do this my whole life,” Hatch said. “Ever since I was little I’ve just loved helping people.”
Hatch is no stranger to giving service having been on two previous trips abroad: one to Costa Rica where she helped with sea turtles for a month and one to India where she worked with people who had leprosy.
At home Hatch has spent time volunteering at Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George, and she has organized clothing and food collections and delivered those items to the homeless in Salt Lake City.
“I actually collected like two cars full of stuff … and took it to them and like ordered pizza and gave them pizza,” Hatch said. “So yeah, it was a neat experience. It’s just fun to see their smiles and see them all happy.”
Hatch has a small GoFundMe account set up to help with the costs of these humanitarian efforts but said that she mostly works and saves her money to pay for her trips.
“Just like, my whole thing in life is just to help people and just like, make their day, make them happy.” Hatch said. “So that’s just what I’m looking forward to, is like making a change.”
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