Gail and Mike McManus are friends from Little Rock and very interested in my work here in Tanzania. Gail, a retired engineer, wanted to help me by setting up a web site so that when I send monthly newsletters giving updates on the orphanage progress, I would not need to send it out to hundreds of friends and family. She also asked for a bio about me. So here goes.
I was born in 1940 in Rockford, Illinois and spent my growing up years in Genoa, Il. My father and mother owned and ran a 300+ seat movie theatre for 30 years in Genoa. So it was a real family business. Mother sold the tickets, Dad was the ticket taker, my brother was the usher and later ran the projectors upstairs and I was the popcorn girl.
After high school I attended a Medical Laboratory School in Minnesota, married the boy next door and we raised two children, Jill and Jon. Later I returned to college and after working as a med. Tech. off and on for 13 years, changed careers. Then I worked for 13 years for Equitable Life in medical and dental claims, then in management for both Equitable and for a TPA downtown Chicago, called Zenith Administrators.
My husband, Floyd, was employed by 3M Company so we were transferred from North Carolina, to Maryland, to Chicago and eventually to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. My mother , who was losing her eyesight and living in Florida, came to live with us when we were transferred to Minnesota in 1993. At that point her needs were great, so I started working part-time for AFLAC (the duck) and continued for 10 years.
My mother passed away in 2002 and my marriage of 44 years dissolved in 2003. I applied to the Peace Corps in the fall of 2003 (something I had wanted to do for over 20 years) , and retired in 2004 moving to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.
In June 2005 I joined Peace Corps and after two months of training was assigned to a little village in the foothills of the Kipengere Mountain Range in the southern highlands of Tanzania called Uhekule. I extended my stay and finished 2 ½ years in Peace Corps December 2007. I returned to the states and fund-raised for seven months returning to Tanzania Sept. 30, 2008 to build an orphanage in Uhekule Village.
We broke ground for the orphanage Feb. 10, 2009. The villagers made 90,000 bricks and construction took off, sometimes very slowly. (This is a 3rd. world country and construction is not like in the U.S.). Our Open House was June 25th. 2010, but we needed to wait for the solar power to be installed before the children could arrive. That was a very slow process.
Finally on March 15, 2011 the orphanage was opened with four children. Today we have 15 orphans ages 6 to 12 and an open bed for one more girl. Then we will have 8 girls and 8 boys.
Back in the states I have eight grandchildren ages 13 to 33 and five great-grandchildren. My grandkids have parents whereas the children at Sunrise are without parents but now have good food, a stable home and lots of love from our staff and me.