Hardin heads to Uganda

Kristi Gange, Staff Writer

During their final year of high school, few seniors have water quality on their minds, but that’s exactly what senior Jessie Hardin is imagining as she readies herself for a two-week trip to Africa this spring.
“I want to really get my community aware of the problems there,” Hardin said. “I’m so excited. This has been my dream since I was little. I have a passion for people.”
She will be traveling to Uganda, where she and 12 others — including her stepfather and sister — will be working to improve conditions in the country. Hardin is involved with a Billings-based organization called AIDSpirit USA that has successfully completed three similar missions.
The group will travel to rural villages to teach farming and irrigation. These farms act as a safe haven for people who have escaped the war.
Hardin admits that the trip will be a life-altering experience.
“I’m going to be a completely different person,” she said. “I hope to do this every year.”
In addition to building wells for fresh water, the group also will be involved in a variety of projects including construction of buildings and medical clinics, and teaching people how to farm and use proper hygiene techniques.
This fits right in with Hardin’s education. In fact, she earned her CNA (certified nursing assistant) license in order to use those medical skills on the trip. She plans to major in nursing.
Hardin said this trip will play a large role in her senior project. She is no stranger to volunteering. She helps at the Rescue Mission, the Special Olympics, tutors Exceptionalities, and regularly volunteers at the hospital.
“You’re being selfless; you’re there to help another person completely, and once you walk away from that, they will have a better life because of me,” Hardin said. “That’s how the world should work.”