Photo by Reed Hutchinson for UCLA Today
Glenda Jones, Bruin Angel
The graduate adviser for the Department of Political Science and her buds spent 17 days in Kenya distributing more than 1,000 pounds of clothes, school supplies, infant necessities, food and life-saving information on hygiene and health.
This story was first published in UCLA Today as one of several profiles of "Bruin Angels."
By Cynthia Lee
It doesn’t take a village after all.
Glenda Jones and four friends proved that this summer when they brightened the lives of more than 1,000 children in Mombasa, Kenya.
Raising more than $3,000, the graduate adviser for the Depart ment of Political Science and her buds spent 17 days there distributing more than 1,000 pounds of clothes, school supplies, infant necessities, food and life-saving information on hygiene and health.
“When I first told people what we were doing, they’d ask, ‘What’s the name of your group?’ They couldn’t understand that we were just five people who just wanted to do the right thing.”
Jones’ childhood friend, a nurse from San Jose, had worked on pro-jects in Africa previously. This year, she recruited Jones to be the school supplies coordinator. A longtime PTA member, Jones persuaded the Burbank High School PTA and students there to raise funds. People at UCLA’s African Studies Center, where she earned an M.A., helped buy clipboards — portable “desks” for children who have no school building.
The friends fed 300 to 500 people and passed out Beanie Babies to hospitalized children. They taught parenting and hygiene. For young girls, constantly targetted by molesters, the group hosted “girly-girl” parties to teach them self-defense and self-respect.
They plan to return next year to build a school dormitory for orphans. Jones is also passing out CDs she authored on the project through the PTA in the hope that well-off schools will be inspired to “adopt” poor ones in South Central, New Orleans or abroad.
“I came back with a different perspective about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love what I do here at UCLA. It sustains my life. But this,” Jones said, “is my destiny.”
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2005