If you’ve ever sponsored a child through a ministry like Compassion International or World Vision, you probably received pictures and letters in the mail from the sponsorship agency. For a ministry called The Esther School in the African country of Zambia, Calvin graduate Dana Krol ’14 uses her skills in strategic communication to connect sponsors with the children receiving an education at the school.
When Dana began her senior year at Calvin, she didn’t know where God was calling her to go after graduation, or what to do with her degree in strategic communication. But she did feel called to go abroad. And as she prayed about it, she found herself dwelling on children and Africa.
So she began searching for organizations in Africa that worked with children. She didn’t find much—until she checked Facebook.
A former volleyball teammate had posted a picture of herself teaching at The Esther School. Intrigued, Dana asked for more information. The school, Dana’s teammate explained, was a Christian school for underresourced children. And it was looking for a communications/sponsorship coordinator.
It took a little nudging from God, but Dana applied for the job.
“God’s hand was so evident in getting me here,” Dana reflects. “It seemed whenever I started to doubt going to The Esther School, God put something in my way that would nudge me back to that path.”
In August, Dana followed that path to Zambia, where her main role is sharing student’s stories with the people who sponsor their education. To convey each child’s personality to sponsors, Dana spends time with them individually.
“[One time] I was drawing with a kindergarten student outside the classroom. I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Out from behind a box slithered a snake!”
When Dana and the student went to tell his teacher about the snake, the student claimed Dana had cried when she saw it.
“We burst out laughing,” Dana recalls, “which encouraged him to tell everyone the skewed tale!” Dana also maintains the school’s website and puts together its newsletter. And from teaching PE to leading a story hour for preschoolers, Dana often helps out in ways that go beyond her job description. She credits the liberal arts education she received at Calvin with preparing her for these roles.
She also discovered her passion for travel during her Calvin years, spending a January interim exploring Southeast Asia and a semester trekking around the Yorkshire region of England.
“I got a taste of God’s creation beyond the U.S.,” Dana reflects. “[That] served as a stepping stone for my decision to venture out after college.”
However, “tasting” the challenges children at The Esther School face is often sobering. “Many of them have lost a parent or sibling and have very little materially,” Dana notes. “I want to serve them but am not always sure what is helping and what is hurting.”
The students’ resilience in the face of such adversity has deepened Dana’s own faith:
“I have seen immense joy and strong faith here. Goes to show that you don’t need things to be full—just Jesus.”