AU students serve the poor overseas

Fri, 2006-06-30 08:48 -- univcomm
June 30, 2006

Taking typhoid pills and tetanus shots, a few AU students traveled to Third World countries through the nonprofit organization Word Made Flesh (WMF), which enables people to serve the poorest of the poor in Third World countries through building relationships.Browsing online one day, Megan Barnett, a studio art major, had the idea to travel to Sri Lanka with WMF. With support from her friends and family, she raised $3,400 to go on the trip. "I got $300 in the mail from my little sister and other people who just don’t have the money to give," she says. "It’s amazing to see God work."With sufficient funds raised, Barnett left shortly after finals.

She took five flights from Ohio to Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she met her WMF team. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity’s tsunami relief groups, Barnett lived with a local family and interacted with the community while building houses. Bible and religion major Jennifer Brooks traveled to Nepal during the winter with WMF, also volunteering in Sri Lanka and India. During her stay in Calcutta, she worked at Kalighat, the Home for Dying, which she says was emotionally difficult. "I didn't want to see the children dig through the trash pile," she says. "I didn't want to have to hold a dying person — even more so, feed a person who couldn’t help himself." Family science major Linsey Higgins served with WMF for four months in Lima, Peru, beginning in February. In a crowded 2-bedroom apartment, she lived a simple life with a Peruvian family of five.

Higgins and her WMF team related with street kids three days a week in a drop-in center where she says most of the teenage girls brought babies or toddlers. "One of my favorite memories so far was watching 12-year-old boys color pictures of poodles with pink bows or purple fuzzy sheep, and giving them to us," Higgins says. "They never had parents who hung their work up on the fridge like most of us did." Taking local children sandwiches, bananas, and milk, Higgins and her team led worship on the streets two nights a week. "Our kids were, for the most part, deprived of any kind of childhood, so we spent a lot of time trying to restore that."

Through her time in Peru, Higgins learned the difference between suffering with someone she cares about and simply sending some money out of guilt. "My insensitivity is gone," she says, "because now these people that I used to only see on TV or read about in magazines are my friends."

— Lindsay Thompson (Signatures: fall 2005)