Being the Change: Fatima Madondo ’22
Fatima Madondo ’22, a neuroscience major and biology minor, has completed research with professors and was even set to do research at Harvard University, though COVID had its hand with that one. Madondo also garnered the Rising Star Award for women in STEM from the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg. Yet, despite all her studies, accolades, and research, Madondo still finds time to volunteer.
“Volunteering helps me be active in making the change I want to see in the world,” Madondo said. “For me, it is not enough to acknowledge what could be changed and move on with life. I want to be the change I want to see, and volunteering gives me that opportunity.”
Madondo got her start in volunteering when she came to LVC. Hailing from Zimbabwe, Madondo wasn’t super familiar with the idea of serving before, as it wasn’t commonplace in her home country.
“At home, most people see community service as a luxury,” Madondo said. “There is an assumption that you can only serve if you have all the things you want in life.”
But once she got to LVC, it was quickly clear to see the impact she could make through volunteering—here in Annville and back home. Inspired by the idea of the little free library here in the U.S., Madondo began a service project that would benefit people far outside the borders of LVC’s campus. She described how volunteering in Annville sparked the idea of helping girls back in her hometown.
“I looked back at my country and realized how much I also wanted to make a difference and provide resources to disadvantaged girls to pursue their talents,” she said.
The idea became a reality with a collection of books that Madondo gathered to donate to an organization back home called “Tariro,” which supports orphaned girls. Madondo hoped was to expand the girls’ English vocabulary through the books, and it was a major success.
She even hosted a karaoke night in LVC’s Bishop Library, where faculty and staff helped bring awareness to the cause. Madondo said the night still stands as one of her favorite volunteer memories.
But Madondo didn’t stop at the book collection. Inspired by the change she created through the project, Madondo said she was compelled to do more to help the girls get into trade schools and start their own businesses. She explains how important an education can be for these girls and what can happen when they are left without one.
“Growing up in a mostly patriarchal society, I have seen some women who are forced to stay in abusive marriages because they cannot be independent,” Madondo said. “Education can equip every woman to believe in their self-worth and know that they are not just defined by marriage.”
While continuing to help the girls back home, Madondo also took up other opportunities to serve. She began to volunteer with Translators Without Borders and recently helped them on a project to translate a video about abuse from English to her native language of Shona. Madondo also began serving with Compeer Virtual Buddy, an organization she found through LVC that helps individuals with special needs get connected and stay connected with others.
Even more impressive is that Madondo has done all of this despite the onset of COVID-19, simply stating that she has adapted to looking for online volunteer opportunities.
After graduation from LVC, Madondo plans to attend medical school to further her research on cancer and regenerative medicine, with the hope to one day work for the World Health Organization to combat global health disparities.
When asked whether this hope relates to her heart for volunteering, Madondo states, “Volunteering has helped me strengthen my resolve to work with disadvantaged societies. I have learned about challenges in running projects and how to resolve them, and I hope to apply these skills one day with the World Health Organization.”
Annville or Zimbabwe, pandemic or no pandemic, nothing has been able to stop Fatima Madondo from finding ways to serve her community. And with the trajectory of her career, it doesn’t seem that she will stop anytime soon.
— Darby Seymour ’22 for ENG 430 Feature Writing