Volunteer of note: Jim Edwards

October 25, 2014

During three trips totaling about seven weeks, Just Hope volunteer Jim Edwards traveled to Bauya to lend his management expertise and support of the Just Hope mission. Jim became aware of Just Hope through his long-time friendship with founder Karen Bruton, and has been a loyal supporter since the organization was founded.

With a career in environmental health and safety, Jim also is board certified as a Certified Safety Professional in management techniques, engineering and construction. His professional experience made him a valuable team member during each of his trips to Bauya. But it’s his ability to encourage people that has been his greatest asset. Workers in Sierra Leone quickly fell in love with him, calling him “Pa Jim” and taking extra care to protect him from snakes.

Among his favorite memories are watching Sullay Turay take charge each day, first by leading everyone in a prayer for blessing and safety, and then by barking out orders to a crew ready to work hard.  “Given limited resources, opportunities, transportation and communication technology and extreme weather, the resilience of those people will always stick with me. They are some of the hardest working people I have ever had the privilege of working with,” he said.

Jim is a believer in the Just Hope model of creating opportunity to earn income. He recalled fondly the smiles, laughter and pride that were part of every pay day in Bauya. “I saw firsthand the impact Just Hope is having,” he said. “Some of the workers I talked to either had never had a paying job or any job at all. Just Hope is giving people the opportunity to build their own future, which is more sustainable than a hand-out program.”

“At his own expense, Jim traveled alone to Sierra Leone to spend weeks at our project site, lending his time and skills,” said Ben Turner, president of Just Hope. “Jim is the epitome of a humble servant, and we have been delighted and grateful to have his generous support.”

Jim said he is eager to return and reconnect with his friends in Sierra Leone. “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sierra Leone and West Africa, especially at this dire time in their history,” he said.

Photo: Jim with Green Mamba