Oakville’s Catherine Mulvale has Africa in her heart.
Mulvale visited Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada, to tell students about her trips to Africa and the non-profit work she does there.
Mulvale used to run her own business, when she was struck by a flesh eating disease that almost took her life. She had a 10 per cent chance of survival. This experience made her want to do something to help people with infectious diseases. Together with her husband Tom, Catherine organized a hike to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The funds she raised went to establish Strategies for Life, an organization that helps people cope with infectious diseases.
Aside from the rainforests and wild life in Africa, it was the orphans of Uganda that caught her attention. Mulvale met 12- year- old Anna, who told Catherine “I have no joy in my life.” Anna had AIDS. She woke up at sunrise, walked two hours to school, worked at a hotel, but was not paid.
Mulvale also met a girl who was not taking her anti-retroviral medication that kept HIV at bay, because her stepmother threw her medication in the hope that the girl would die, because she had four other children to look after.
Moved by the plight of these children, Mulvale came across Rafiki, a program for orphans in East Africa. Rafiki initially had 35 children, and two adults who looked after them. The orphans had many needs that were not being met. She returned to Canada, and started raising funds for Rafiki.
An art show in Oakville helped her raise funds for shelter, education, food, and medicine. Rafiki restored hope for more than 35 orphans, by building a school, a vocational program, and a well to supply them with three liters of water a day.
Catherine goes back to Africa every two years, with her husband Tom, and her two children, Jordanne and Zack.
Ride for Rafiki is a program in Canada that raises funds for orphans in Africa. Catherine still organizes hikes, the second one is planned for 2011.
There are an estimated 3 million orphans in Africa. Whenever Catherine Mulvale feels that she has not done enough for all of them, she remembers a guy called Michael she dated when she was 13. Michael told Catherine “You are going to do great things for the world.”