Miracle Worker

UNC student Rachel Rose Jackson

UNC student Rachel Rose Jackson holds one of the many Ghanaian children who have benefited from the nonprofit organization she co-founded during her study abroad semester in Ghana in fall 2009. Photo courtesy of Rachel Rose Jackson

Update March 4: Rachel Rose Jackson has been selected as one of 15 finalists for the national Students In Service Awards. Voting is open through March 16. Vote for Jackson here.

As a sophomore, UNC student Rachel Rose Jackson co-founded a nonprofit organization that provides ongoing relief and support to women and children living on the streets of Accra, Ghana.

Studying abroad in the country in fall 2009, Jackson planned on volunteering in some capacity.

"I wasn't really planning on rearing an entire organization," said the junior Honors student. "It all just unfolded that way."

And, thus, the Kayayei Association was born out of an unmet need ("Kayayei is the tribal Twi language word that describes women who live and work the Ghanaian streets," Jackson said).

Since 2009, the association has provided more than 500 women and children with education and lifetime healthcare coverage. More than 150 have received medical treatment that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Jackson established the curriculum used for the Kayayei children's education program and obtained medical supplies, donations and equipment for the health care clinic — contributors include upper class Ghanaian citizens.

Many Ghanaian women have received vocational training that allowed them to leave their former lives in prostitution. Others have been provided housing in the underdeveloped country.

"The Kayayei Association aims to aid in any way possible," Jackson said.

It is currently a self-sustaining organizational model in which those that have been helped come back and help others in their own communities.

Now that she is back in the U.S., she uses Skype to communicate with her Ghanaian partner and co-founder of the association. Jackson continues fundraising and planning until she can go back go Ghana — she hopes this summer.

At UNC, she majors in Nursing and plans to pursue a career in the field.

Jackson said a nursing degree will fit well with her passion for international affairs and her desire to heal in a physical and emotional capacity.

Nominated for National Award
For her outstanding demonstration of scholarship and community service, Jackson has been nominated for a national award recognizing college students for their outstanding service to address social and environmental challenges.

You can vote for Jackson at http://www.serviceawards.org/applicant/153/Rachel_Rose_Jackson.aspx.

- Brittany Sarconi