By Jarrel Harris ‘14
Most college students head south for the beaches over spring break, but freshman volleyball player Erin Bies ’16 found herself on dirt roads in the slums of Africa.
Erin traveled with her parents and sister Julie to Ethiopia for a service trip with Operation Hearts and Home, a nonprofit organization that provides orphans with medical and dental care, and the education needed to help live successful lives.
“It’s very shocking,” Bies said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities for the kids when they get out of the orphanage.”
After a 14-hour flight to Dubai, a six-hour layover and a six-hour flight to Ethiopia, Erin was physically and mentally drained. She was so ill that she was forced to check into a hospital in Ethiopia twice, but her sickness did not distract her from her goal.
“During the day, I put a smile on,” Bies said. “I knew best online pokies I was sick, but being with the kids took my mind off everything.”
She was on a mission to help brighten lives. “The kids have so little, but they’re so happy. They’re just thankful for the time that you give them. They tell you they love you when you spend just a day with them,” she said.
Erin enjoys playing volleyball at Siena and, like most college students, hanging out with her friends and reading the “Hunger Games.” She appeared in 27 competitions for a Siena team that won 21 games and advanced to the MAAC Championship in the fall. She looks forward to an increased role in the Saints’ back row next season after the graduation of seven seniors this year.
She’s also thinking about her next service trip, having identified Kenya as a possibility. “Anywhere that needs help, that’s the place I want to go,” Bies said.