AFTER a decade-long love affair with Africa, Wodonga woman Libby Frankel will move there permanently.
Ms Frankel will move to Malawi on March 1 to continue her work in helping African children survive and thrive.
“I do feel like my place is over there now,” she said.
Having travelled to Africa for the first time a decade ago, Ms Frankel was touched by the work of the Tawonga Community Based Orphanage – “tawonga” means welcome in the local language.
Soon after she started Tawonga Community Based Orphanage Inc, which raised $15,000 to buy goods and build goat and chicken houses in the village, 350 kilometres north of the Malawi capital Lilongwe.
In August she returned to the village for the first time in seven years with Border women Glen Modra and Marg Tanner.
“A bit had changed in the past seven years,” Ms Frankel said.
“Nobody knew I was coming and there were lots of hugs.
“I had printed out photos of the children I’d taken seven years ago; some of them didn’t believe the photos were themselves.
“They were in hysterics!”
Together with first-time visitors to Africa Ms Modra and Ms Tanner, Ms Frankel took books, toys and school supplies for the children in the village.
They also visited several schools to pay fees for 10 secondary school students and 40 primary school students from money raised in Australia.
“In Malawi there are not enough secondary schools and government selection is based on scores,” Ms Frankel said.
“A lot of them don’t get to go to secondary school, which is pretty sad.”
A former travel agent who ran her own horticultural business, Ms Frankel said despite the challenges of living in a developing country she felt a sense of peace in Africa.
“There’s a struggle with issues like red tape and bribery in some parts of Africa but beyond all that there’s a return to a simpler life,” she said.
“I’m happy to go back to a simpler way of living; with chickens and goats running around.
“The volunteer work has given me real perspective on what’s important.”
Ms Frankel will speak about her August visit to the orphanage at Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group’s general meeting on Wednesday, December 13, at 6pm at St David's Uniting Church in Albury.
Everyone is welcome.
To donate money to the orphanage or follow its progress visit https://www.facebook.com/tawongacbo/ or contact Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group.