Maegan makes a difference in Ukraine

With our new scholars well and truly settled into University life, I am still learning about each and every one of them. Their achievements and experiences are amazing.

Maegan Cleary, the recipient of an Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students in recognition of her dedication to volunteering, is five months into a BA (Hons) Children and Young People’s Learning and Development (Primary) degree. Maegan’s account of her volunteering at an orphanage in Ukraine is something I have found both heart-warming and fascinating. Enjoy!

“I have always had a passion for volunteering. I enjoy helping people in need and always appreciate help I receive so I became involved with a couple of projects involving the local community. My volunteering journey began doing things such as helping at a youth club on Friday nights, operating visuals at Sunday morning church services, participating in fundraising events and also volunteering to teach local junior dance classes. I felt fulfilled to help and make people happy, through these I made a large amount of friends, who have all been and continue to be a good influence on my life and an amazing support network.

From volunteering with the church, I decided to join a group called MAD (Make a Difference) where I was a part of a ‘mission’ to literally make a difference to children’s lives. I was given a great opportunity with this charity to travel to Ukraine to help at an orphanage. We travelled around 23 hours to reach the orphanage which was falling to pieces. It was hard to see this, the stories of where the children came from were horrendous, as some of them were runaways, drug takers or simply not wanted anymore. It’s an experience I will never forget.

Maegan Cleary

We did our best to treat the children to things they have never experienced, such as ice skating and going to the local theme park. What shocked me the most was experiencing their first visit to McDonalds – something so simple as fast food which we take for granted is a luxury to these children. Whilst all of these trips were taking place, the adults of the group took the opportunity to surprise the children and orphan leaders by refurbishing the dining hall and entertainment room at the orphanage, removing all of the old unsafe areas and painting and decorating the rooms to become more child friendly.

This work was not unveiled until the last day, however this was not the only surprise in store as all of the participants on the trip had given up their luggage space when flying out for toys, clothes, soaps and lots more. I will never forget the shock and surprise of all the children and staff on the last day, ever so grateful and appreciative for what we had done. I feel I have made a real impact on these children’s lives as well as having made some great friends. I have recently heard some amazing stories from the leaders of some of the children returning to loved ones and becoming adopted.

This was such an exhilarating experience and has really put things into perspective to never take things for granted. So, in 2014 I applied and was accepted into Edge Hill University, where I also applied for a Scholarship in Volunteering, which I was ecstatic in finding out I had been chosen to receive. I am going to use the funds to travel back to the Ukraine, to help the children after the disasters there over the last twelve months.”