I recently met a humble and inspiring woman, named Karin Carlson, who I was lucky enough to shadow for a new job I’ve just started. At 61-years-old, Karin’s found a new calling in life. She’s a much different person today than she was a few years ago when her world was turned upside-down.
She and her husband divorced after being married for 35 years. She found herself in her mid-50s lost and lonely. Her friend offered her an idea to help her out of her rut – go with her to Kaihura, Uganda to volunteer for Bringing Hope to the Family – an organization that runs an orphanage, a medical clinic, a vocational school, an elementary school, sustainable livelihood projects and a child welfare program. She agreed to it. When asked what skills she could offer, Karin said she had administrative experience from helping her ex-husband build his business. But when she got to Uganda – change of plans. The organizers asked her if she was afraid of blood. She decided to take the challenge and became a dental assistant, helping pull teeth and repair smiles.
That trip left an imprint on Karin’s heart.
“I had never seen anything like the poverty, and yet the people had joy. It showed me that you don’t need things to be happy. It also got me outside of my own head and my own problems as a result of my divorce, and made me feel like a worthwhile person again.”
Karin’s newfound passion for serving the poor in Uganda brought her to Bringing Hope to the Family a second time – this time, she worked with children in the orphanage and helped build a beauty salon with teenage girls who were learning how to do hair and massages to become self-sustaining.
She’s going back for the third time next summer. Karin considers this community in Uganda her second home…and strongly considers making it that permanently one day.
“I am 61-years-old and a grandmother of 3. It’s pretty interesting to ‘start over’ at this point in life, but I think it’s a great way to go.”