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Volunteers share about trip to India

Tell St. Edmond students that orphans were the ‘happiest kids in the world’

October 10, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Lucy Hancock and Paige Potthoff traveled to India for three months as part of the Homes of Hope India volunteer program.

There, the two young women lived with 83 orphaned girls, and taught English to children in the village.

They returned Friday.

Hancock and Potthoff visited St. Edmond High School Thursday with a slideshow to tell about their experiences to Nancy Zimmerman's foreign language class.

"When I had Lucy in class, I never dreamed she'd be doing something like this," Zimmerman said.

Potthoff said the children there had to endure a hard life, but always smiled and were genuinely happy.

"They're the happiest kids in the world," she said. "Those little girls are stronger than big ol' American men here."

In India, Hancock said, the people there had very little compared to Americans.

"It showed us the difference between wants and needs," Hancock said. "We got an appreciation for the things we take for granted."

Hancock said they arrived in Bangalore in June.

Hancock and Potthoff spoke briefly about their experiences teaching, even though they aren't teachers and didn't know the local language.

"We didn't have a curriculum. We were just thrown in it and told to teach," Hancock said. "It was really difficult, but by the end of it, we decided to teach them manners and songs and prayers, and we accomplished that."

During their stay, they were invited to attend a wedding by strangers.

They showed a picture of the food in India, and the class groaned in disgust.

"Yeah, I know," Hancock said.

They showed photos of the family they boarded with, and the clothes they wore. They explained how children there had bad lice, which they cleaned Saturdays through Mondays.

"Lice were everywhere," Potthoff said. "It was to a point where you stand near a little girl and her head was moving with lice."

Hancock said doing volunteer service was very rewarding.

"Humans are the same, no matter where you're from," Hancock said. "The world is such a big place and they live so differently than we do. And I'm not saying there's a right way or wrong way to live, but America does live in excess and it is important for us to be grateful for what we do have."

She added, "It's something we'll never forget."

"Be happy about the little things," Potthoff said. "These little girls, they're the happiest little people I've ever met, and they don't have nothing. Anyone can be happy."

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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