This months group is an overseas program founded by a member of First Books long standing partner, Pi Beta Phi. This post features an individual that is volunteering abroad, and taking her passion for literacy to all corners of the world.
Kentucky Beta member Ann Enderly Walker’s family began a Christian-based nonprofit organization providing short-term medical and humanitarian care throughout the world. The organization, His Healing Hands, works to make a difference in the world to those caught in the vicious cycle of poverty and disease. “Medical backgrounds and a willingness to serve caused my husband and I to get involved,” Ann says. “I am a retired registered nurse, and my husband is a retired firefighter. We both feel very strongly about giving back to those less fortunate.”
Ann and her husband fell in love with volunteer service after their first trip to China. “The plight of the people we saw was unbelievable; yet their humility, joy for life and gratitude for the care we gave them convinced us that we were the lucky ones,” Ann says. “Although we touched their lives for only a brief moment, we came home with the bountiful gift of having known them.”
Last summer, Ann and her husband were team leaders for a group of nine American volunteers in Uganda. They provided medical care to the people who live in remote areas, where there is no access to electricity, running water or adequate medical care. The team was composed of people from all over the United States. For two weeks, Ann’s team worked alongside Ugandan volunteers to treat children from 6 months to 18 years old, who had been orphaned by their parents’ deaths from AIDS. “The orphanage was where I decided to give books that were donated by the Pi Phi’s from the Central Orange County, California, Alumnae Club. I was the Literacy Chair of our club before becoming President, and believe literacy and the ability to have access to books is vital to the education of all children.”
In addition to providing books, Ann’s team was able to arrange surgery for a 5-year-old girl who had a leg deformity and was unable to walk. Ann’s team performed a first surgery while they were there. Since they have been home, they learned it was successful. The little girl is awaiting a second surgery.
“My experience as a Pi Phi has shown me friendships are for life, and some of the Ugandans I have had the honor of knowing and working with are truly now my lifelong friends,” Ann says. “Pi Phi’s are always called to serve, whether it is in their local chapters, clubs, communities or beyond. That is what Pi Phi’s do.”