Nursing student fulfilling lifelong dream of helping others with African trip

(News Journal) Brooke Houseworth grew up with her family sponsoring children in third world countries.

The Daytona State College nursing student always wanted to go to another country and help those in need.

The 21-year-old will get her wish when she leaves June 6 to fly to Jinja, Uganda, in Africa to volunteer at an orphanage called Amani Baby Cottage for orphaned, abandoned and needy children, from newborn to 5 years old.

She’ll be assisting for two months and hopes to be helping in the medical clinic. Through the help of friends and family and money she saved from working as a nanny, she got the $3,400 needed for airfare and room and board, which financially helps the orphanage and pays for medical supplies.

Houseworth, a 2009 graduate of Warner Christian Academy, is in Daytona State’s nursing program and hopes to complete the associate in science in nursing program in the fall of 2013, then transfer to the University of Central Florida for a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She read a book about the orphanage and was inspired.

“I’ve always wanted to do something volunteering abroad,” Houseworth said. “I feel privileged I have this opportunity to be able to help out and love on these kids who are orphaned or abandoned and have had no nurturing or anything. I will be as touched by them and hopefully I’ll touch their lives, too.”

Houseworth was in an educational abroad program in middle school for a few weeks, but has never been to a third world, or underdeveloped, country.

She’d eventually like to be a traveling nurse going to third world countries and helping to set up clinics.

Kristyn Behrends, 23, of Glendale Heights, Ill., who received her bachelor degree in psychology recently from Stetson University, will leave on June 5 for Sierra Leone in West Africa. She will be a part of the Peace Corps teaching English for 27 months.

“I always wanted to travel and the Peace Corps offers a wonderful opportunity to integrate with the community rather than travel as a tourist,” she said.

Behrends taught English for three semesters as an intern to adults in Pierson.

“It was incredible. It was so much fun and there was a lot of laughing,” she said. “I learned more Spanish doing that than five years of classes.”

She also hopes while she is in Africa to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. She did another internship with the psychology department at Stetson, where she studied HIV and AIDS in West Volusia.

“It was an interesting experience and made me realize how much I cared about the issue,” she said.

Behrends also hopes to educate people in the U.S. more about Africa.

“In my experience, people have a lot of fears about Africa,” she said. “I’d like to learn about the people there and share that with my friends and family in the United States.”

After the 27 months, she may decide to do another trip with the Peace Corps in Africa or another country or she may come back and start working toward a doctorate in psychology.

“I think studying the way humans interact and communicate is really interesting,” she said. “I’d like to facilitate support groups and things like that.”

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