As a nurse who spent many years caring and nurturing for others, Dorothy Russel Hanson’s passion to help those who need help is an innate behavior. These traits emanated from her upbringings by her selfless parents who, in their own right, had sacrificed their entire lives caring for those less privileged. Her father was a missionary in Ethiopia and Dorothy had spent her most impressionable years in Ethiopia (between six and twelve), watching her remarkable father tirelessly helping and mending the lives of many people. He was a deeply religious man serving God by caring for the poor. He had seen the devastating effect of poverty and hunger during the Depression back in the United States, and when he chose to go to Ethiopia, he didn’t expect the magnitude of the ruin in the Third World countries such as the one that had met him in Ethiopia.
After returning to the United States and finishing her nursing courses, Dorothy was married to a wonderful man and had three magnificent children. Her husband passed away in 2003 and Dorothy was back to Africa living among the most destitute people. Her children were all grown up, and she had enough time to explore.
Her expletory mission was lofty, however. The nurse in her was asking her to nurture the whole world. Though that maybe an ambitious dream it didn’t deter her from moving back to Ethiopia with a simple dream that was sketched in her brain: I can change the world.
Back then, during her stays as a young girl in Ethiopia (1943-1949), the country was struggling to extricate itself from the nuances of colonial rule and was trying to embark on a new direction. Haile Selassie appreciated Christian missionaries and her father was joyously welcomed. In 2003, when she returned to Ethiopia, alone, ambivalent and nervous, she didn’t know what to expect. And yet, the ever delightful and genial Ethiopians welcomed her with open arms and she was back home!
They said: She is one of us!
She truly had arrived home.
Ever since that moment, Dorothy has bee living in Ethiopia assisting the elderly who come from all walks of life. In a country devastated by economic malaise for years, there are abundant senior citizens who have no support whatsoever even for basic sustenance. Forgotten by their own families and overlooked by a government that itself is in a pitch battle to recover from past famines and destructions, Ethiopian elderly look unto Dorothy as an angel.
She now considers Ethiopia her home. She spends most of her time in rural areas, reaching out to those forgotten. And for me, her compassion and love deserves this dedication.
In 1964, when I started writing this book about a remarkable white man, I had no idea that there were just as good people whose love is unfathomable. People like Dorothy are all over Africa and India. They do remarkable jobs. Major John Randolph Porzecki was responsible to save millions of lives in Ethiopia; and so are the aid workers today. Individuals like Dorothy who do miracles without any publicity populate the continent.
(Her Foundation The Noble Cause Foundation is doing a remarkable job. Please join Dorothy in making the life of the Ethiopian seniors and children brighter and happier.)