Aug. 30, 2008
Many Rice undergraduates chose to spend a semester studying overseas to enhance their educational experience and broaden their horizons. But for Rice midfielder Kate Edwards, the benefits of experiencing life away from this country are far more profound.
Edwards, a midfielder from Westlake Village, Calif., traveled to Nicaragua this summer to help a small seaside village recover from a tropical storm that heavily damaged almost three-fourths of the people's dwellings.
"We put together a food care-package of rice, beans, salt, sugar, cooking oil, coffee, pasta, tooth paste, toilet paper and laundry soap, most of which a lot of us take for granted," Edwards said. "We went door-to-door around the village and distributed the food and preached the Gospel. There were some families where the father of the house had to leave the rest of the family behind for periods of time while he tried to find work.
"There was this one instance where there were four kids and the oldest in the house was a 14-year old girl. Faith is important to a lot of people in that community, so we asked if we could pray for them. We often prayed with them. We didn't get to feed or help everyone, but we were able to reach out to 220 out of the 300 families in the entire town."
The trip was Edwards' second to Nicaragua. On the first trip a few years before, she and her mother volunteered to help out the kids at a local school in Chinendega, Nicaragua. They taught the children English and bonded with the townspeople.
"My mom has kind of adopted this whole town," Edwards noted. "We might go back with a bigger group after the semester, maybe around Christmas. The people were so happy. They (townspeople) made us this huge lunch before we left, and for a place where the average monthly salary is only $100 they took out a big part of their monthly income to show their appreciation.
That appreciate grew leaps and bounds after their more recent trip, when Edwards was part of a 8-person group from her church on a mission of mercy. Part of the group helped rebuild some of the homes in town while Edwards and her group helped distribute food.
"Being able to give is like the best feeling in the world. There is no greater feeling than helping someone who is less fortunate than you. I am here (at Rice) all the time and with soccer, the players get really nice gear and we have access to a lot of terrific counselors and teachers who give of their time to help us with school or whatever. We're all very fortunate, but it feels even better to be the one on the giving end for a change.
As someone dedicated to helping those in need and inspiring others to follow in kind, Kate Edwards is most assuredly one of Tomorrow's Leaders.