A few years ago my daughter, Karenne Jo Bloomgarden went to South Africa to work on a Habitat for Humanity project. While there, she fell in love with a small township in KwaZulu-Natal. She spent her free time with the teacher in the sole school and worked with the little children. Most of the children are AIDS orphans.
Upon returning to the U.S. to her teaching job in Manhattan, she began a campaign to encourage her pupils to let their parents know Ms. Bloomgarden was collecting their worn out clothing. They were told that if they donated this clothing it would be sent to needy folk who attended this school in South Africa by their teacher who showed them in a concrete way about people in the other side of the world. Karenne personally paid to ship carton after carton of clothing and school supplies she gathered to this school.
From that time she has paid her own way to go to “her children” twice a year: ten days on her Spring Vacation and one month in August. She delights in her contact with the teachers and children and is teaching the little ones English. Her ultimate goal is to build a school for children with special needs.
Two weeks ago she had a surprise visitor to the school where she was sitting on the ground with a group of children. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of Kent was on vacation in South Africa with her two daughters and heard about the “American Teacher” who came to work with the children, supplying them with clothing and school supplies. “Fergie” asked to meet Karenne and came upon her sitting on the ground with the children playing a game. The Duchess sat right down and began talking to Karenne and in the process asked her for her “wish list”.
Karenne was invited to “tea” with Fergie and her two charming daughters, a topping of special significance to the work this New York City teacher was doing in a little town in KwaZulu-Natal.
It was a treat for Karenne and for her mother who is writing down this story. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of such an unexpected and wonderful experience. I am so proud of this daughter of mine who finds it so satisfying to give.
Karenne has no problem with people, she enjoys them. But, how does one address a Duchess?