While working as an Event Planner/Concierge at Goldman Sachs in Chicago at age 55 I joined the Peace Corps and was assigned for almost two and a half years to a small village called Braffoueby located in the West African nation of IIvory Coast.
After nearly 17 months in Braffoueby a coup d'etat occured and civil war broke out throughout the country. All 70 Peace Corp volunteers were evacuated to Ghana where we either stayed, returned home or were reassigned to a new country.
I travelled to Kenya where I finished my 5 months of volunteering at an all boys school high in the hills near the tea plantations. I continued to do my work in the classrooms discussing AIDS prevention and helping to minimize the fears and myths associated with AIDS/HIV as well as the importance of keeping communities healthy and disease free.
When I returned to Chicago to my two sons, my six siblings, their spouses and 22 nieces and nephews I could not stop talking about the experience of leaving West Africa without ever saying good-bye or thank you to those who were so kind to me.
One day my young niece, in her very direct fashion, asked me if I was going to do anything about it. Stunned, I said out loud what I had been thinking about for the last two years since I left the Ivory Coast: I was going to build a maternity clinic and fight to bring quality maternity healthcare for the mothers, many who have been injured or lost children in childbirth and who work in the fields and walk miles and miles to access the health care they deserve.
Ivory Coast Mothers and Children became an NGO in 2008, and after years of fundraising with support from many extraoridinary friends and my family, The Patricia Nau Clinic, named after my mother, was opened in May 2013 in Braffoueby, Ivory Coast. The first baby was born at the clinic that first month. We continues to grow and evolve, but now these mothers know there is hope for their future, when before there was none because healthcare was not available.