Torrance, CA – June 8, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — For Christine Deschaine, it was the running water she missed most. Traveling through the Amazon on a small medical boat, she volunteered to work in a mobile dental clinic and assisted a team providing extractions to those living in remote villages. Almost two weeks passed as she traveled between flooded villages with few modern conveniences. Amidst this exotic jungle and beautiful terrain, that was still the biggest culture shock. Yet the gratitude and welcoming faces of the people she helped made it hard for Deschaine to be anything but grateful herself.
She returned home to Southern California with revived enthusiasm. Since that first trip to Brazil in 2009, she has embarked on global volunteer initiatives in Uganda with Global Support Mission (GSM), a development organization that networks volunteers with community programs.
On June 10 she returns to continue work with GSM-affiliate Bringing Hope to the Family. For three weeks, she will live in Kaihura, Uganda without modern plumbing and other comforts of home to help orphans who have lost parents to violence or HIV/AIDS.
The community based organization is the creation of Executive Director Faith Kunihira, who pulled herself out of poverty and gave up a better life in the city to aid the children in her village. Kunihira’s determination and compassion became a driving force for Deschaine’s return to Uganda.
“I plan to stick with Faith,” said Deschaine, a principal who works out of Lee’s Los Angeles North/Ventura office. “She sacrificed most of her adult life and great opportunities to care for orphan children and adolescents. I feel my purpose here is to help her be more successful.”
Volunteers at Bringing Hope to the Family offer a variety of services depending on each person’s skills. In addition to medical care, volunteers work in counseling, construction and education. With experience on a mobile dental clinic under her belt, Deschaine will again provide assistance with dental care and teeth extraction.
“I never realized how much of an impact you can make in a short amount of time,” she explains. “If you can relieve a child’s pain through an extraction or give a person their first pair of shoes, then you have already made a world of difference.”
Deschaine is no stranger to giving back, be it abroad or at home. For 25 years, she raised money to ride in the annual Bike Trek for Life and Breath, a three-day, 150-mile long fundraising event held by the American Lung Association’s Santa Barbara/Ventura chapter. She has donated clothes and fed the homeless in soup kitchens in her own community for many years. When her first trip to Brazil came around, it became a natural next step. What began as small gestures to serve the community quickly flourished into a global passion.
Luckily for Kunihira and her orphans, Deschaine’s passion has become an inspiration to others. Based out of Lee & Associates’ Sherman Oaks location, Deschaine rallied the office to donate laptops, children’s clothing, men’s ties and money to help those in Kaihura. This year she won Lee & Associates’ Jack Cadillac Award for her commitment to volunteerism.
“Christine is an amazing woman,” said Mike Tingus, president of Lee & Associates’ Los Angeles North/Ventura office. “She has not only been a tremendous asset to our company, but her unwavering commitment to community and charity cannot be questioned.”
While the complications of such a voyage and the history of violence in Uganda present valid concerns, Deschaine finds that the satisfaction of her time there justifies any initial apprehension.
“Why not go out of your comfort zone to help others?” she asks. “The people who need our help the most are not always within our country.”
With her return to Uganda days away, the challenges of life in Kaihura await. Yet the opportunity to help Kunihira and the children in her village is more than enough to pull Deschaine through the rough times and keep her coming back.
Lee & Associates
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