Rarely in life do you meet a person of such spirit and temperament that he or she sees human need and commits to do whatever it takes to address it.
Westminster Old Scholar Yasmine Ernst (’03), who made a return visit to School recently and addressed students of various year levels in classes and in Chapel, is such a person.
Research for a short documentary that she was making for her Bachelor of Creative Arts in screen production took Yasmine to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. While there she volunteered in a children’s home in Nairobi.
Yasmine tells the story thus: “It was there that I met a two-week-old abandoned baby who stole my heart. She had health complications from her treatment in her first few weeks of life. I took her to hospital where I was basically told she was not worth saving. I made her a promise that if she fought for her life, I would always fight for her and be her mum. She made a miraculous unexplained turn around in less than an hour, which led me to remain in Kenya where I planned to adopt the baby called ‘Precious’, once I had met a three year residency requirement”.
Seeing repeated corruption in over-crowded and abusive children’s homes, Yasmine decided to start a home that would be dedicated to offering quality of care that would allow children like Precious to break the cycle of poverty in their communities and to reunite children with family wherever possible.
So began ‘Zaidi Ya Dreams Children’s Home’, in Swahili ‘Beyond Dreams’. Through Yasmine’s dedicated work, the home is now a safe place for 18 children aged two to nine. The before-and-after, or ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos that Yasmine showed during her visit attested powerfully to children’s lives changed by provision of health care and education.
One of Yasmine’s learning goals for students she spoke to was the hope of them “understanding their own privilege to help them better interact with those who may not have had the same advantages in life. This is not a lesson that is only relevant to an overseas situation but should be applicable in their day to day lives”.
See more of Yasmine’s remarkable dedication at Zaidiya Dreams
Rev Phil Hoffmann