Last Saturday was a big day for Wendy Ryan, the manager of the Evangeline Ministries / Masicorp life skills program. Wendy was back in her native USA at the invitation of Dr Tony Compolo from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. Earlier this year Tony has asked her to be the commencement speaker at this graduation ceremony. However, there was more to come, as Wendy was then informed she had been recommended to receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of her work with poor communities in South Africa.
Wendy has described the news as “the second biggest shock of my life”. A statement she qualified by explaining the biggest shock was that she came to South Africa in the first place. Wendy has a long association with Eastern University having worked with Tony Compolo in the United States for over 10 years, and was a board member of the Compolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies until 2006. The college encourages the affluent to work with the poor worldwide and through her work with the college she found herself travelling to South Africa.
With her experience from Compolo College, Wendy was working as a journalist and began training people in writing and photographic skills. Her work was noticed by the editor of a Cape Town newspaper in 2005 and she was invited to work in the city. This was at a time when HIV/AIDS and its links to poverty were being recognized worldwide, yet in South Africa there was a lack of willingness to tackle the problem. Wendy was directed toward Living Hope on the Cape Peninsula, who had just opened a hospice for women suffering with HIV/AIDS. She was moved by the plight of the women she met, who were surviving daily on drugs, but without long term prospects.
Wendy was motivated to set up her life skills program that was initially established to provide literacy and skills training to HIV positive women in the Masiphumelele. In the years that followed the program has expanded to accept a range of students, both male and female, and also provides computer training and practical skills training in sewing and dressmaking. Masicorp are pleased to partner with Wendy to assist in delivering the program and would like to extend our congratulations to her on the award of her doctorate. We look forward to seeing her back in South Africa to toast her success and start work with the new intake of life skills students in January.