My journey to Freetown began the year before when I picked up the New York Times. On the front page there was an article on the Ebola crisis in West Africa. I was intrigued by the story of this little girl who had lost her mom and dad. There was such a crippling fear of this deadly disease that the extended family members could not and would not take in these children.
I felt compelled to help, but how? I was a single mom, a preschool teacher with two children. One away at college, the other about to leave for college. I took the article from the newspaper and put it in my bag. Why? There was just a gnawing feeling that God needed me to be of service. Again I asked how? I could barely meet my monthly bills so I know that the lord did not want me to write a check. The answer was to give of myself. All of me!
On December 25, 2014 I applied to the Peace Corps in hope of getting a position in Sierra Leone. My plan was that when my daughter went off to college I would go off to the Peace Corps and we would all meet up and share our experiences. The Corps informed me that they, along with various other organizations had pulled out from all the regions of West Africa because of the Ebola crisis. Would I consider Rwanda?
Before I could decide, a friend called to tell me that some priest was coming to speak about Sierra Leone and an orphanage that a mission was trying to build. So off I went to a Greek Orthodox Church, a Christian religion that I knew nothing about, with the hope of finding some answers. “How do you want to use me Lord?”
I heard Father Themi speak passionately about West Africa. He spoke of the abject poverty, high youth unemployment, high maternal and infant mortality, widespread rural poverty, poor infrastructure, disease and a high proportion of people who are unable to read or write. He went on to speak about the children who have lost their parents Ebola and now are orphans.
Somewhere in all of that I heard an invitation. I introduced myself to Father Themi after his talk. I told him I was a trained Montessori teacher and I wanted to come to help. He asked me if I was scared and I said yes, but…
Here I am, helping to improve early childhood education in West Africa.
I firmly believe that education is the only way to peace, and our young are our world’s greatest sustainable resource. I am blessed to be part of this mission. Under the guidance of Father Themi and his sister Mary I am reminded that everything is done in God’s time and it will all work for the Glory of God. “Don’t doubt just Do”
Have a Peaceful Christmas