Graduate Will Use Her Skills to Care For Children in a Zimbabwe Orphanage
Jul 14, 2014
While most American National University graduates go to work serving others in their own communities, Louisville Campus graduate Hannah Black will be using her skills halfway across the world in Zimbabwe in southern Africa. Hannah, who earned an associate’s degree in medical assisting, will be moving to Africa to help provide medical care to the children of The T.J. House, an orphanage operated by her family.
Named in memory of a family member who lost her life to cancer, The T.J. House opened in 2008 with 15 children and now has more than 500 residents, from newborns to young adults. “Most of their parents have died of AIDS or have been run out of their villages,” explained Hannah, who has made annual trips to the orphanage.
The orphanage is essentially a small, self-sufficient community, providing everything that the children need, including a farm where the older residents learn to raise their own food; medical and dental care; a school; and a church.
More than half of the children who live in the orphanage suffer from AIDS, and many come to the orphanage malnourished. “When we get them, a lot of them have never brushed their teeth before,” said Hannah. “They don’t know that your teeth need to be taken care of.” She added that the dental care that they provide is very important, because it allows the children to eat properly.
Hannah became certified as a registered medical assistant during her program at National, and when she returns to the orphanage she’ll help manage the medical office. “When I go over there, I’ll be one of the main people in the medical office,” she said. “We have a doctor who lives there, so I’ll be helping him.” Specialists and dentists frequently visit the orphanage to volunteer their time, and she will also assist them during their visits.
Hannah said that it feels great knowing that she’ll be able to put her education to work to help the children at the orphanage. “They’re pretty awesome kids,” she said with a smile.
A five year old boy named Josiah, who she discovered during a backpacking trip, has particularly touched her heart. She found him in a convenience store where he had been living for three weeks after his camp was invaded.
“Turns out his parents were killed, so he was an orphan,” explained Hannah. “We ended up taking him back with us. We got him seen by the doctor and got his teeth taken care of; we got him fed and got him his own bed; we got him clothes and shoes. He looked at my brother and asked him, ‘Is this Christmas? Why are you guys doing this?’”
When it was time for Hannah to return to America, Josiah begged her not to leave. “When I got on the bus, he ran after the bus. It broke my heart,” she said. “Every time I go back, he’s the first one I see. He’s right there waiting for me.”
A- Medical assisting graduate Hannah Black will be using her medical training to help care for children in an orphanage in Zimbabwe.
B-Louisville Campus medical assistant Hannah Black (back row, far right) is shown with children and staff from The T. J. House in Zimbabwe.
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Medical: Medical Assisting - Associate Degree (MAA)