Lisa Henry, WFP helicopter in Darfur

Lisa Henry in Dereig camp, Darfur, Sudan

Name: Lisa Henry
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

DanChurchAid Nørregade 15, 1165 Copenhagen, Denmark

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1987-1990

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Niger

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Seed multiplication project, small kitchen gardens and digging wells

Is there a specific person (or persons) who made a strong impression on you during that time?

Hadja, the midwife in my village Guetsi, was my mentor, friend and bright light each day.

What was one of the most memorable moments you had as a volunteer?

Kneeling in a mud hut, supporting a young mother through a difficult birth where the only tools we had were a sharp razor, some luke warm drinking water and our words of support. A plump boy finally emerged after hours of difficult labor.

In what ways did your Peace Corps experience affect your life and/or career decisions?

After 2 years living among the farmers and Tuareg pastoralists in eastern Niger, it was an obvious choice to pursue a career in the humanitarian assistance sector, working with motivated and capable women and men from poor countries in Africa.

In what ways did your U-M education, both inside and outside the classroom, prepare you for your Peace Corps experience?

Coursework with Ali Mazrui, combined with a provocative global atmosphere on the campus and town of Ann Arbor, stimulated my thirst to engage myself in international and development issues.

What advice would you give to others who are contemplating going into the Peace Corps?

Go for it and immerse yourself in the experience. Smell, taste, observe, learn, listen and live in another culture. The education is invaluable and the adventure can’t be underestimated. Everything can be planned these days but life in an African village puts things in perspective.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

Americans getting out of the US and immersing themselves in foreign culture, builds a culture of respect which I carry with me every day.

What lessons did you learn in the Peace Corps that you carry with you today?

A suitcase full of memories which I recall each day. No one has it as easy as us and we have to remember that.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

My greatest dream now is that all of our kids will join the Peace Corps, as an invaluable part of their life education!

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