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Local family provides education, medical care to African villagers

ARLINGTON The Andersons, a family of self-described "homebodies" who were born and raised in Washington state, walked away from everything they knew two years ago when they left Arlington to render medical and educational assistance to African villagers.

Tyler Anderson, a physician's assistant who worked with the Cascade Valley Medical Group for 10 years, was joined by his wife Kim and their four children in Kampala, Uganda, working for the Rafiki Foundation, a Christian non-profit organization that focuses on the physical, spiritual, educational and social needs of African children.

Although the Rafiki Foundation started in 1985, the Andersons first heard of it through their work with Bible Study Fellowship International in 2001. They decided they would take part in the organization someday, after their children had grown, but when word went out in 2004 that the organization needed on-site personnel for their medical centers and teachers for their schools, "someday" came sooner than they'd thought.

"We felt that God wanted us to do this now," said Tyler Anderson, whose wife is a teacher. He raised funds from friends and family, since the organization relies upon individual donors instead of government contributions, and served two weeks at an African medical clinic in 2005.

"I had a wonderful time and fell in love with the people there," Anderson said. "It really confirmed for me that this would be a good thing to do."

It wasn't necessarily an easy thing to do. The Anderson sold their house and much of their property to lighten their material load.

In August of 2006, they moved to a village one hour outside of Kampala, where Kim became a part-time teacher at the first-grade preparatory and primary school for approximately 140 students, and Tyler performed daily healthcare for what started out as 50 orphans, but grew to 96 by the time he left.

The Andersons lived, worked and sent their children to school with rural farmers. They met orphans who were friendly and uncomplaining in spite of their harsh lives and, according to Tyler, they found themselves missing the conveniences of America very little.

"It was hard being away from family and friends, but we can make do without shopping malls," said Tyler Anderson, who will be leaving with his family for another two years in Africa.

The Andersons are eager to share their story, which is why they'll be speaking to medical care professionals July 31, from 6-8 p.m., at the Providence Hospital Colby Campus. They'll also be appearing at a community open house at the Highland Christian Schools auditorium, Aug. 2, from 1-4 p.m, as well as an "Eat For Africa" fundraising dinner at La Hacienda in Arlington, Aug. 5 from 4-8:30 p.m.

For more information, call 425 350-5837.

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