When a traumatic event changed my comfortable life forever, I decided to head off and follow my dream of making a difference to those in need. It’s not always easy, but I try to keep in mind the big picture – providing education to change the lives of neglected, marginalized children living in situations of abuse and abject poverty.
Leaving behind her four young adult kids, she set out for Nepal in 2006, to wander the highlands; she then spent three months in orphanage schools all over the country training teachers of English, who responded to her innovative Australian methodologies with joyful enthusiasm. In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda, to help a remote community re-establish the local school, once again guiding teachers and children alike in both English and French. Her living conditions were novel - atop a hill in a round cement house with no water or electricity; her bucket-shower brought in jerry cans up from the river by villagers. Each day she climbed a slippery track in hiking boots, with a crowd of curious admirers, to reach the collection of mud brick classrooms. Although the teachers seemed stunned by her hands-on approach, her conversation activities and singing, the children caught on quickly; indeed, walking home she would hear her French ditties floating on the air, as students laboured in the fields.
In 2007, she set out again from Sydney, this time over the Pacific for the Peruvian city of Arequipa. More than six years later, she’s still there, ensnared by this country of surprising contrasts; its culture, its people, its customs, its language, and the 250 precious children of ‘Elohim’, a school in the desert slums which has become her life’s work. She teaches English, provides support in Spanish for children with learning difficulties, sits on the board of the school as International Advisor, and works within Arequipa to raise awareness and establish professional and social contacts. Susi has raised enough funds from Australia, Europe, U.S.A. and Canada to build a new wing with classrooms, administration area, toilets, library and computer room.
Susi is currently working on her sixth book.
Location: Arequipa, Peru