By RANIA AMPNTEL CHAFINT/Montana State News
She was seven months pregnant and infected with AIDS when she was found living in a bus terminal in Lusaka, Zambia. Nearing birth, the woman was taken to Dr. Tim Meade, who helped deliver the baby with the help of a few volunteers. As a sign of gratitude, the woman named her baby Tim, which laid the foundation for Tiny Tim & Friends.
Meade, who has since adopted “tiny” Tim, now runs the organization with the help of a team of student volunteers from Montana State University. The nonprofit organization is committed to providing medicine to children and families who are in need of HIV/AIDS medication in Zambia, according to the Tiny Tim & Friends website.
The organization connected with the MSU Leadership Institute when the organization’s founder, Dr. Meade, came to speak at MSU in September, 2008, which was sponsored by the institute and the Diversity Awareness Office. The organization reconnected with the institute years later when it ran into trouble.
“Tiny Tim and Friends reached out to the MSU Leadership Institute’s Director Carmen McSpadden after the loss of their director last fall,” said Joey Morrison, the head of the student team.
“The team here in the U.S. was handpicked by me through my own network of leaders and students, as well as from recommendations from faculty and colleagues,” Joey said. “I made a strong effort to assemble a team from a myriad of disciplines and backgrounds.”
The team is tasked with crafting job descriptions, policies and procedures, human resource documents, and bylaws for the nonprofit as it battles HIV in Zambia, where 14 percent of the population is infected, according to UNICEF.
“My role is to assist with the restructuring of their human resource policies,” said Ryeland Allenson, a senior studying business at MSU. “We’ll be wrapping it up with the founder’s parents during finals week.”
While on the job, the team has acclimated to the cultural differences between them and Zambians.
“It is critical for Zambians to be able to introduce themselves fully before partaking in something like a training,” Morrison said. “Whereas in the United States, a brief introduction may be in order, but usually doesn’t include much more than name and maybe major.”
Morrison hopes to be on the ground in Zambia this summer, assisting the organization, the first to do so from his team. He also hopes to start a student organization to include his team, whereby students would continuously come through and lend support to Tiny Tim & Friends, and maybe even visit Zambia, for years to come.
– edited by Virginia Holst