GREAT FALLS — A Great Falls Public Schools employee who's known for helping students learn to drive is heading halfway around the world to help steer a community service project in Africa.
Lisa Henry may be best known for administering the driver’s ed program for the Great Falls School District.
Last summer, she and her sister traded in the friendly comforts of Big Sky Country to engage in community service work in Kenya.
“Most of our trip was based in Methare Valley, which is the slums where people live in like ten-by-ten metal shanties with no electricity, no water, nothing. They have nothing,” said Henry, who also serves as the Administrative Assistant for the GFPS Athletic Department.
The trip was part of the Christian based Missions of Hope International. Lisa was part of a team that helped paint a church and delivered food baskets. They also laid cement and built a mud hut.
Lisa said she was struck by how people with so little could be so appreciative.
“I really wish I could take my grandkids over there so they can see how these kids live,” said Henry. “And then maybe mine wouldn't complain that they got their cell phone taken away or, you know, they didn't get to watch such and such on TV or they couldn't go to the movies or anything because these kids have nothing.”
Lisa also recalled a moment during last year's trip when the daughter of the team’s bus driver accompanied them as they served hamburgers and soda to some Kenyan school children.
“This bus driver’s daughter came up in front of this microphone with all these kids and the whole place went silent. Then she led them in a song and they cheered for her,” said Henry. “It was something I’ve never experienced, to be that excited over a hamburger and bottle of pop. We took one to each desk and we gave them each a drink. Not one kid in the whole entire school touched that burger or that drink until everyone in their classroom had theirs. And they thanked us.”
Now, the sisters are gearing up for another trip - this time to Turkana, about 400 miles north of Nairobi.
Lisa and her team will help run a retreat for high school aged girls.
“And the theme of that is going to be called ‘Enough’ just so they know that their worth,” said Henry. “They are enough, you know, to keep going, pushing through.”
She says one of the highlights will be bringing groups of girls back to the team’s hotel each day so they can enjoy using the pool. Lisa and her sister welcome donations of modest swimsuits the girls can use.
They’re also taking classroom decorations for schools in the area.
Lisa’s sister has taken part in service projects in Ecuador and Tanzania. Lisa has also helped build a playground in Mexico. She says it’s a great feeling to help people who can’t help themselves.
Lisa: “People in the United States I know need a lot of help, but these people don't have WIC and they don't have welfare and they don't have they don't have free public school. They don't have all those things. And they're so thankful for it that I don't know, I just got it. Got under my skin.”
If you’d like to learn more about the trip or how you can help with donations, you can call Lisa at 406-788-7781 or in her office at 406-268-6083. She can also be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Killer of JoAnn Malone identified
- 'Knitting Club' at Great Falls school
- PIX: Aurora Borealis in Montana sky
- Recent obituaries on KRTV