In Kenya: Changing the Lives of Others

 

By Alison Jones Webb '81
 

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Dolfine Gumba Dawa
Dolfine Gumba Dawa, a soft-spoken Kenyan primary schoolteacher, brought home to Colby students in September the immense tragedy of AIDS in Africa.

AIDS, years of drought, and poverty have left her community in Kenya "torn to pieces," Dawa said, speaking in the Olin Science Center.

Dawa spent many years teaching young students in a primary school in a remote region in western Kenya. Then tragedy touched her personally as her youngest son died of food poisoning and her eldest son died of AIDS. From the depths of her own depression, she vowed to make a change.

She started from scratch, she explained, bringing orphaned children into her home and helping widows start "small-small businesses" making bricks, liquid soap, and crafts. The number of children in her care grew rapidly, and she cashed in her retirement funds to build a modest compound that houses the Korando Faith Widows and Orphans Group. Together with her husband, Dawa started Medoma Primary School. 

Today, 25 orphans live in her compound and 215 live nearby in child-headed homes or with neighbors, Dawa said. All 240 children receive a free daily meal; 200 children attend the free Medoma School and 40 are sent to secondary school when funds are available to pay the school fees. The widows and children help finance the organization through their small businesses.

Dawa used her own successes to encourage students to aspire to change the lives of others. "If you are not sick, you are capable," she said. "You can do something. . . . God will open a way."
 
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