In 1987, Bill and Jeannie Ritter packed up their
1-year-old son and left Denver for Zambia, Africa.
For the next three years, they ran a food
distribution and nutrition center as lay
missionaries for the Catholic Church.
It's one of the most inspiring pieces of
They trucked 60 tons of food a month 400
miles from the capital city to their depot
in Mongu. They then distributed the food
deep into the bush. Bill and Jeannie also
added poultry and fishery programs. They
taught women the importance of good nutrition
and food preparation for their families. And in
a country ravaged not just by drought, but also by AIDS,
malaria, leprosy and chronic malnourishment, Bill and
Jeannie taught basic health care.
Their young son, August, became fast friends with the local
children. Bill and Jeannie's second son, Abe, was born in Africa.
In Africa, Bill says, he learned that leadership is about listening to
people, understanding their struggles, and walking with them on the
path to a better tomorrow.
"We were forever inspired by the hope and spirit of the people of
Africa," Bill says, "even in the face of such poverty and despair."