CHANGING THE WORLD
doing their part to
help make the world
a better place.
IN 2006, KELLIE O’BRIEN and her daughter, Heather,
traveled to Africa to volunteer at a convent in Sanya
Ju, Tanzania. With so much hardship around them,
they felt impelled to give away much of the clothing
and money they had with them. At the end of the day,
however, they knew they had not made a lasting difference. When they asked how they could, the sisters
told them about a Maasai man named Gabriel who
had come to the convent for the last five years, asking
for a school. Even then, Kellie O’Brien knew that her
life was about to change. By the time she and her
daughter left, they had already drawn designs for the
first three classrooms on the back of an envelope.
Seven years later, the O’Brien School for the Maasai
( www.obrienschool.org) stands as a testament to how
one woman, with the aid of family, friends and anonymous well-wishers, can transform a village. It houses 10
classrooms (K– 6), a library, a kitchen, a women’s vocational center and a two-acre garden. In building the
school, O’Brien also helped bring the village electricity,
Wi-Fi, telephone poles and clean water, and, even more
important, a dream.
“Our biggest hope is that the students, coming
from one of the poorest villages, will recognize that
they can become the next leaders of Tanzania, Africa
and the world,” O’Brien says. “Living in a dung hut
does not determine who you can become in this world.”
What inspires a 70-year-old to devote herself to an
impoverished village more than 9,000 miles away from
her home in Hinsdale, Illinois? “There comes a point
where you go from success to significance,” she says.
“You want to give back.”—Fran R. Schumer
James Jackson (right) presenting medical supplies to the
minister of health and top doctors in Accra, Ghana.
A dream made real
Students leaving O’Brien School at the end of the day with a new pair of shoes.
professionals to travel to and assist in developing countries.
“For a strong and healthy economy in a developing country,
you must have healthy people. That was the part of my motivation
that was not just emotional, but economics,” explains Jackson.
—Irene Middleman Thomas
“AS AN INTERNATIONAL economic consultant in developing coun-
tries, I was greatly moved by the seemingly endless trauma and need
for better medical delivery systems and for individual medical help
there,” recalls James Jackson. “Millions of people die just for the lack
of simple and inexpensive medical items and procedures. I wanted
to do something that would be sustainable for the future.”
In 1987, with the help of medical-industry friends, Jackson
founded Colorado-based Project C.U.R.E (Commission on Urgent
Relief and Equipment; www.projectcure.org), an organization that
sends millions of dollars’ worth of donated medical supplies and
equipment to needy people in more than 130 developing countries,
such as Mali, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Brazil and DR Congo. It has
received numerous awards, including a ranking by Forbes as one of
the top 20 most efficient large U.S. charities.
The organization, heavily supported by volunteers, now has
operations and warehouses in 17 U.S. cities. In addition to weekly
deliveries of three semi-truck loads of donated medical supplies
and equipment, the organization also sends C.U.R.E. Kits, boxes of
essential medical supplies and equipment designed for short-term
medical missions abroad, and C.U.R.E. Kits for Kids, shoebox-size
boxes containing home healthcare supplies for parents of young
children. C.U.R.E. clinics are an avenue for volunteer medical
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