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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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Gwenn Gideon raises funds for HEAL Africa

Gwenn Gideon raises funds for HEAL AfricaGwenn Gideon is an amazing high school senior.  She’s a young woman with a vision and a “can-do” spirit.  Her parents always said to her that no matter how old you are, you can do something.  “Take a stand.  If you start something and follow it through others will get behind you.”  At age 13 Gwenn read The Diary of Ann Frank- it changed her life.  She made a commitment to take a stand, and address issues of injustice. 

Her first project was to do a dance benefit for the purpose of bringing a Sudanese mother and child to the States.  Her goal was accomplished.  At age 15 she started a local theatre called “Act2Act” for the purpose of raising awareness about human rights abuses in the world.  She heard about the Laramie Project, did the play and raised funds.  This year she read about HEAL Africa and the work they are doing to address sexual violence in Eastern Congo.  Once again, Gwenn decided to take a stand.  She presented a goal to Act2Act, to raise $11,000 to build a safe house for the women of Congo through HEAL Africa.  In November 2010, she presented a check to HEAL Africa of $11,000 to build a safe house.  The house is now built and women come daily for counseling, vocational training, legal services, life skills, and economic empowerment (business loans).  As a result of Gwenn’s vision, hundreds of young girls and women are being restored to wholeness. 

Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."  Gwenn is living this out…and she hasn’t even graduated from high school yet!   I hope you are as inspired by Gwenn’s action as I am.

Here’s a 2011 interview with Gwenn Gideon:

What motivated you to get involved? 

I read “The Diary of Anne Frank” when I was 13.  She was the strongest human being I’d ever read about.  She was only a couple of years older than me. She became my role model. 

After reading “The Diary of Ann Frank” and also a story about a Sudanese woman and her child, for my Bat Mitzvah project (13 years old), I decided to raise money to bring this Sudanese woman and her baby to the States.  I raised funds by having a dance benefit.  At the beginning, the hardest challenge was that no one took me seriously.

What happened after that experience? 

2 years ago I created a local theatre called “Act2Act”.  The objective of Act2Act is to raise awareness about human rights abuses in the world.   Last year I heard about the Laramie Project, and decided to do this play.  I didn’t realize the levels of homophobia that existed.  It left a big impact on my town (Rhinebeck, NY).  This year I heard about HEAL Africa, through  the website, and decided to raise funds via the play to build a Safe House for HEAL Africa, in Congo.  As a result of the play this summer we raised $11,000, to build a safe house and provide staff support.

What is your goal after high school?

I graduate from High School in June and want to pursue the theatre and psychology in college.  I hope to find someone who will keep Act2Act going in my town, and hopefully bring the vision of Act2Act to my campus, wherever that is.

One of Anne Franks quotes near the end of her book was “in spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart

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