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Unwritten last chapter

Ray Norman

Believing that “people are remarkable stories” with the last chapter unwritten, Ray Norman, dean of the School of Science, Engineering, and Health, embraces opportunities to learn about people and hear their personal stories.

That skill has come in handy as he has managed a water and mobility project in West Africa for the past several years.

West Africa is an area where oral storytelling is valued. Norman knows the region and the art of storytelling well as he grew up there.

When Norman, a water engineer by trade, came to Messiah in 2002, the College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research had already been working in Africa, specifically Burkina Faso, for a number of years. In 2005, World Vision approached Norman and asked for the Collaboratory’s assistance to design latrines and wells accessible to handicapped people in Mali.

This summer, the Collaboratory is in the final stages of that project. The project’s three priorities—access and use of hand pumps, transport and domestic use of water, and access and use of latrines—have been met through the collaborative work of a dozen or so international organizations, Messiah, and the generous support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. (for more about the project, watch this video.)

The Messiah students and faculty who have contributed to this project over the years have been changed by the people and experiences they encountered in Mali. In a recent ListenUp! podcast , Norman tells a captivating story about Tafili, a woman who probably suffered from polio as a child and lost the use of her legs. Growing up she suffered from depression and was treated as an outcast. Her encounter with Norman and subsequent relationship with Joni Eareckson Tada changed her life.

In addition to working in Mali, the Collaboratory also has teams in Burkina Faso and Zambia this summer. You can read about their experiences via blogs.

Zambia (May 18-June 8)

Burkina Faso (June 22-July 27)

Mali (June 2-17)

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