By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
After one day in Tanzania with the Lifted Strong program, Emma Turner knew she needed to stay longer than her planned four weeks.
“I would stay here forever but my parents want me home,” Turner, who is in her early 20s, said to the Palisadian-Post one week into her stay.
“I’ve always had a major travel bug and love for volunteering,” Turner explained behind the inspiration to make the trip. Turner first worked with children with autism, which she said propelled her further into the world of volunteering.
“I’m from the Palisades,” Turner said. “I’m in a bubble. The hardest thing I had ever gone through was my dog died.”
Turner’s grandparents bought a home in the Alphabet Streets in 1983 and remain here today. She moved here at the age of 4 and grew up in El Medio Bluffs.
Then, through volunteer work, she began to see more of the world, including comforting the mom of an 8-year-old who was dying. Through various programs, she volunteered at orphanages and schools.
She found the program she is currently working with, Lifted Strong Community Organisation, about three months ago.
“I’m passionate because of what I saw in Tanzania the first time,” Turner explained, touching on young kids on the brink of death and mothers who could not afford formula.
Lifted Strong’s vision is to “have a community where the livelihood of women, children, youth and elderly is enriched in social and economic endeavors.” The organization, which refers to participants as “mamas,” is “focused on lifting the spirits, improving the health and fueling the hearts of women suffering from HIV and living through traumas.”
Turner shared that she wanted to work with Lifted Strong because the programs are focused on women empowerment—teaching business and health classes, English and an array of different skills, including how to create a sustainable source of income through selling chicken eggs.
She recalled one of the days with the program when she was giving a massage to one of the mamas who responded that she had never been touched like that.
“I came here with no goals in mind but to make someone feel happy, secure and loved,” Turner shared. “They’ve been ostracized, something so little means so much to them.”
Turner is seeking donations, with funds raised supporting the women and their children for a better future, according to a GoFundMe.
“I think the biggest thing is to be grateful for what we have in the Palisades because sometimes in life we take it for granted and I know I do too, but we have so much and it’s really easy to forget,” Turner concluded.
For more information or to donate, visit gofundme.com/f/httpswwwliftedstrongcoorg.