(Wilkes-Barre, Pa., - Oct. 24, 2012) – Linda Winkler, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Wilkes University, recently was honored for a decade of work in support of the Nyakahanga Hospital in Karagwe, Tanzania. Winkler was presented with a special certificate of appreciation from the hospital at a Jubilee ceremony honoring the hospital and their partners. The Jubilee celebration participants included former Tanzanian President Mkapa, the Honorable Anna Tibaijuka, a Tanzanian Cabinet member and the Honorable Bishop Dr. Benson Bagonza and Dr.Andrew Cesari who oversee the hospital.
Winkler first began visiting the community of Karagwe in 2002. She brought with her a large group of donors and college students from the United States– the first time that a large contingent of North Americans began visiting – with a mind toward serving the impoverished village and educating college students from the United States. Winkler was then an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.
“The bishop who oveersees the hospital said to me ‘Americans have a reputation for going places and not staying.” Winkler recalls. “So if you come here with this project, are you going to stay and continue it or is it going to be just a short term thing which you then abandon?’ ”
Ten years later, the project she started in Tanzania is still going strong. Now a joint project of Wilkes University and the University of Pittsburgh, Winkler has taken 140 students to Tanzania over the years, as well as 19 faculty members and donors. Collectively, they’ve contributed more than $120,000 to the hospital and affiliated programs.
Perhaps the most well-known of Winkler’s endeavors is a project to provide support to Tanzanian children orphaned by AIDS. Winkler and her students have also been involved with non-governmental community service organizations dealing with community health, women’s rights, education, water issues, microfinance and community development.
“When we originally started this, we were doing several different things. One of those things, a service-learning program with (non-profit organization) Amizade, has now been spun off to a faculty member at West Virginia University,” Winkler said.
“My goal is to create programs and find people who want to be involved and then spin them off,” she continued. “We always talk about ‘sustainabilitys.’ That’s the key word; we want this to be a sustainable project.”