Katie Davis left her home five years ago to go on a one-year journey in Africa.
After graduating from high school near Nashville, Davis wanted to take a quick detour before entering college.
After an exhaustive search, Davis found an orphanage in Uganda that was looking for short-term volunteers and signed up for the vacancy.
She said, “I moved over there thinking that I would be there for a year and then I would come back and go to college and be normal again.”
But God had a different plan for her, she said.
Twenty-two-year-old Katie Davis is now living in the village of Jinja, Uganda, taking care of 13 Ugandan children under a four-bedroom concrete house. She also manages a nonprofit organization, Amazima, that educates and feeds around 2,500 Ugandan children. Some of them are AIDS orphans.
She is not just an advocate but also a writer. Davis visited Nashville recently to advertise her book, Kisses from Katie, with the help of Howard Books. The book is named after kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com, her personal blog wherein she documents her work in Uganda.
While she was at home, Davis sat beside her younger sisters and talked about her life experiences in the foreign land. Davis’s sisters are still 3 and 5 years old, while her children in Jinja range from 7 to 16 years of age and are currently under the care of her friend.
Davis was working at the Canaan Children’s Home orphanage in the shore of Lake Victoria when she founded Amazima at the age of 19.
While she was teaching kindergarten, she noticed that most of her students were dropping out one by one either because their parents passed away or school fees were too high for them to afford. Parents were also leaving their children under the care of the orphanage because they could no longer provide basic commodities like food and shelter.
So Davis took the initiative and persuaded her family and friends to donate money needed for school, medical care, and meals for the less-privileged children.
Amazima currently supports 500 students with its $700,000 annual budget. Aside from sponsoring children, it also runs a hot meal feeding program that feeds 2,000 children. It also employs around a dozen Ugandans as staff.
What made the organization successful was Davis’s faith and determination to help according to Mike Mayernick, Amazima’s chairman of the board.
“She saw that orphans needed help,” he said, “and decided that she needed to do something to help them. That inspires people to support her work.”
“At such a young age, she made a choice to give up what we would call the American dream. She felt a call to do something more with her life.” Mayernick said.
Davis reiterated that her work is nothing but rewarding.
Davis is doing a great job at raising these children as she has a soft heart for those in need. Whenever she sees a person in need, she does her best to help and leaves the rest to God, which in a way led the founding of her program.
Davis stated, “It’s hard to serve and serve and serve and treat every sick person that comes in your gate and bandage every wound and feed every hungry person and still know that 10 minutes away, someone just died because they couldn’t get to the hospital or they didn’t have enough food.”
The main objective of Amazima is to keep children under the care of a parent or a close relative. However, that is not always possible.
Davis took care of three little girls after their home got wrecked three years ago. The girls’ father had already passed away, so they were basically on their own.
The girls are now happy to have Davis as their legal guardian. She is working on the documents for adoption of the said children. However, Ugandan law strictly prohibits adoption if the adopter is not yet 25 years of age. Now she is taking care of the girls together with 10 other orphans.
Davis’s normal day is spent homeschooling the children during the day and doing administrative tasks for Amazima in the evening. Davis and other staff administer Bible studies and run health centers in nearby villages on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Davis and her family live off proceeds from her book and her small wage from the organization. Good thing she can also rely on her close friends in Jinja. The village has drawn attention from a couple of young Americans who also work at local orphanages. Most of them are short-term volunteers while some permanently reside in the community like Davis.
All of them gather for Bible studies and meals on daily basis. Her mom, Mary Pat Davis, flies to Uganda to visit her once a year and stays there for a month.
Her mom decided to support her daughter’s cause and volunteers around 30 hours per week for the organization’s Brentwood office. Mary Pat said she is thrilled to have 13 grandchildren. She admits that she wanted Katie to go to college before permanently moving to Uganda. However, she saw that Katie has found her life’s meaning in the community and wants to back her up.
Mary Pat stated, “She can make anything work that she wants to.”
Katie claims that she is perfectly happy with the life she chose. She was in a relationship when she moved to Uganda, but they have since parted ways. She is not closing the door on school or marriage but for now, her focus is on these kids and the program.
She jokingly said, “If some crazy dude wants to move to Uganda and wants this many children and God ordains that, then great. But I am happy and content where I am.”
Check out Katie’s videos below.
Hungry for more heartwarming stories? Get your fix with these articles: