Accidental Volunteer

Josephine knows poverty.  She grew up in a thatched hut, in a small village where she often went to sleep hungry.   She remembers her Mom would start boiling water  over the fire outside their hut, waiting, hoping that maybe Dad would come home with something to cook in the pot.  But often, that would not happen.

But Josephine was a good student and was able to get a good education.  Her education finally took her, with her husband to the USA, where she studied in California for her PhD.  In 2000 when she was in the middle of her doctoral studies, she was called home because her father was dying.   That visit changed her life.  When she got to her small coastal village she was shocked to see the school was no longer functioning, kids were in rags and there were no middle-aged people.   AIDS had swept through the village and taken most of the adults.  Grandparents were left, caring for children.   In the small village, she quickly counted at least 80 orphans.  Her heart was broken.

Josephine went back to the USA and the next summer break from school brought back a team of friends to help begin a rebuilding project. It has become an annual event.  During one of the summer projects, it became apparent that there were numerous children in the village with physical and learning disabilities, and so a special education project was born.

Josephine said, “I am just one women with a broken heart.  I am not a great leader, but I am doing what I see in front of me.” She encourages women to  “influence from where you are.  We are not all going to be leaders, but we can all influence in our own sphere.”   She adds, “Women are not always handed the opportunity to excel.  In Africa we often need to fight for the chance, but we must; and we can make a difference.”

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