On a mission to Africa


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ST. THOMAS - Some college students take the summer off to catch up with friends and family, but Caprisha Richards is heading to Africa to work with young people in Zambia.

Richards is a junior at the University of New Haven. She graduated from Antilles in 2012, the same year she was a contestant in the Carnival Queen competition. She attends the University of New Haven on a volleyball scholarship and has a 4.0 grade point average.

Like so many young people, she yearns to explore other cultures and travel the world. One year ago, she set a goal for herself to spend the summer of 2014 in Africa.

After searching for just the right program, she settled on the Pennsylvania nonprofit, A Broader View.

They offer projects in a number of countries and allow volunteers to live and work side-by-side with local people. Richards leaves Sunday for her four-week stay in Lusaka, Zambia located in Southern Africa.

"They told me not to have any expectations, but I'm really looking forward to seeing a different lifestyle," she said. "I know it's going to be very different from what we're used to."

In the youth advocacy program she is participating in, she will work 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday, in a juvenile correctional center. She will also provide weekly assistance at a local orphanage.

"Most of the children involved in these living situations have come into minor conflict with the law or have been abandoned by their parents," she said.

Richards is using the experience to support her own research project about "babies behind bars," in which she is studying the children of incarcerated mothers in Zambian prisons.

"I will be studying the effects of this crisis on the children, their parents and the community as a whole. I also hope to dig deep into their justice system as it pertains to children to seek out the ultimate agenda and how it differs from the justice system of the U.S.," Richards said.

She will be living with a host family, and is looking forward to exploring and seeing everything Zambia has to offer, including the world's largest waterfall, Victoria Falls.

The host family has running water, she said, but other than that, she does not know what to expect.

"I'm hoping to be come more knowledgeable about the world around me," Richards said. "I'm hoping to become more appreciative of the things we take for granted on a day to day basis."

The program is one of the most affordable, but she still needed help paying for the program and airfare, which is more than $3,000. She received assistance from former St. Thomas residents Susan and John Gonsley, who knew Richards' family from when her mother was a V.I. police officer.

Richards originally wanted to be a doctor, but felt the pre-med track was too limiting, so she is studying global studies, Black studies and sustainability studies and plans to go to graduate school to be trained as a midwife.

"I just want to see the world," Richards said.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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