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Brittany DiBella

Brittany DiBella

Class of 2013, Nonprofit and Public Management Zimbabwe

In the winter of 2011, Brittany had the opportunity to go to Zimbabwe with a church group. An interest in Zimbabwe was sparked after a missionary, who toured trips with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), talked about his experience there. He introduced the notion of churches in Zimbabwe partnering with churches in the United States. Through that teamwork, churches were able to fund and implement services in Zimbabwe. Members of Brittany’s church volunteered to be a part of this effort. For two weeks, their group worked in collaboration with a pastor from Zimbabwe.

Their main focus was to develop a strategic plan for the pastor’s orphanage for boys. While there, Brittany and her group members visited a number of orphanages. By talking with children, orphanage “parents,” and community organizers, they tried to find appropriate ways for the church to get involved. They worked to identify the needs and gaps in their society and what resources they would be able to provide. That following summer, the pastor was able to purchase a building that was turned into a boys’ boarding school to live, become educated, and learn life-skills. While there, the boys will learn how to increase their agricultural skills, become more self-sufficient, and build sustainability.

Brittany recognized the significance of visiting Zimbabwe. Their work could have easily been done over the phone or through email but she believed building those relationships in person was vital for their success. The difference in sending money versus building relationships and support was more meaningful and more empowering.  On a visit to an orphanage for children whose parents passed away from AIDS, Brittany remembers seeing a 10 year old boy on the street. He was returning from treatment at an AIDS clinic after walking several miles from his village. She couldn’t help but notice his overwhelming sadness. The boy was approached by her fellow committee members who gave him a hug and prayed with him. They brought out a smile on his face and, to Brittany, it was the most beautiful smile she’s ever seen. Brittany’s passion for Africa grew stronger after meeting its people and getting involved in their community.

Brittany believes visiting a third world country like Zimbabwe was important both on a personal and professional level. She was given a new perspective that made this life experience richer. Traveling to Zimbabwe also gave her hope and a frame of reference for her future work. Learning how to interact and engage with people to meet their needs is important as a social worker. She truly feels as if she left her heart in Africa and hopes to return to see how those children’s lives have improved.

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