ST. PETERSBURG—At 73, Patricia Stoddard believes she has plenty to offer a hurting world. The retired teacher and perennial Peace Corps volunteer takes off for Africa next month.
It will be her fifth trip to the region as a volunteer. This time, she will establish a school for 70 orphans. The petite, energetic woman can’t wait to be off. She bought a Berlitz book and tape and is studying Swahili.
“I have my new passport, my malaria pills. I started to collect things. Today I got on the Internet and saw that there are 1.1-million AIDS orphans in Kenya alone and now they’re like throwaway kids,” she said during a recent interview in her Presbyterian Towers apartment.
The orphanage she’s traveling to was established in a large, old house by a Kenyan who wanted to give children orphaned by AIDS a place to live, Ms. Stoddard said. They range in age from 6 to 16.
What is her motivation?
“I suppose there is a spiritual thing there, but I’m not strictly religious,” she answered recently.
“God is love, whatever God is. And work is prayer. I want to use everything I have until I can’t use it anymore.”