Photo by Chris Hartlove
As a 20-year civil war raged in Sudan, adult casualties spiraled, the ranks of soldiers grew younger and younger, “and the majority of these children never came home,” says Rasha Kafi, Accel. ’15, who grew up in Khartoum. “To see the young people dying, every day in the news, was very, very scary.” The government demanded military service for both boys and girls. In 1998, two brothers were at or near military age, and Kafi was not far behind. Mom Alizabeth Kodi, a physician’s assistant who also ran a nursing clinic for impoverished neighbors from a spare room in her own home, was not about to watch her kids sacrificed in a war that would not end until 2005. But to save them, she had to leave them behind. It was a sacrifice that Rasha Kafi won’t forget.
Mom went first to neighboring Egypt, where a United Nations office seemed to offer a chance at freedom, but it would take time. “It was hard to get out of Sudan,” Kafi remembers. “You had to have very valid reasons to leave.” Undaunted, Mom set in motion the plan that would, eventually, bring her family to the United States, sponsored by Christ Church in Richmond, VA.
Kafi, recipient of the Mary Dent Scholarship, graduates this summer and plans on working for a year or so before resuming her studies to become a family nurse practitioner. From there, she expects her journey to take her overseas once more, as the desperation she sees in images from her native country (“people living literally under rocks”) and elsewhere calls to her. She feels her time at Hopkins will “sharpen my skills, help me learn tools to help people ‘out there.’ ”
Always, Mom’s sacrifice illuminates the path.