When I was younger, I had a dream of teaching in African countries and helping children learn the world. Last year, December of 2016, my dream came true and I, along with other students, went on a university trip to Sierra Leone, West Africa. Every day for the three weeks we were there, I was working on two, sometimes three projects. One was a volunteer project with the Theatre Department of my university, which brought Shakespeare to the schools of Sierra Leone. Kids loved our acting workshops and the play "The Tempest", which was their first theatre play they have ever seen. One young girl walked up to me after and said that I was very beautiful and she would want to be an actress when she grows up.
My second project was purely academic and related to analyzing the manufacturing environment of the country and the obstacles it faces. I had a great opportunity to talk to government officials, visit palm oil plantation, interview businessmen, which all contributed to my research paper afterwards.
After Africa, I spent some time in Jordan with a friend and that’s when things changed: I started feeling sick. My return journey to the States was just little pieces of memories, since I was losing consciousness every two hours, and stopped responding to my friend. I had no strength, I haven't eaten for three days because I would throw up immediately if I did, and at some point, I lost my vision. I had malaria. (Later we found out that the anti-malaria pills I was taking were not suitable for Western part of Africa, only South. But I had no suspicion at the time. ) I don't remember what has happened on the plane to Detroit, I must have passed out, but I woke up in the hospital in the US three days later, after being in an induced coma. (I really should a book about my flights from Jordan to the States). It was a long recovery, but thanks to the medical staff of the hospital, I survived and am almost fully recovered now.
But the story continues, as I’m receiving five medical bills per three days from all kinds of providers, who took care of me during my two weeks stay in the hospital. The insurance covered 80% of a huge bill that I’m too scared to say out loud, but there is a significant amount left. The easiest way is to pay, and I would love to, but I’m an international student, on a need-based financial aid with my university, and my only income is my salary of a TA, which sums up to $6000 per year, half of which goes towards my tuition. I’ve called my medical providers, and set up payment plans with some of them, but even then, there are 14 of them, so I can't afford to pay $1400 every month. They are threatening to send it to collectors, if I don't pay soon. (some of it is already in collectors)
With that, I want to say that ironically at first, I and others helped Sierra Leonean kids with their education, by bringing Shakespeare to life, giving books and school supplies, by making them smile. Now I am asking for your help, which will save my future and free me from this financial burden that I cannot afford to pay. Thank You!
- Nicole Maurer Crashell
- Jennifer McLernon
- Brian and Marcia Gill
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