Leigh Dannhauser washed her clothing in buckets, raised chickens and walked miles to buy what she needed from a local market.
She embraced this new life as a Peace Corps volunteer and on Dec 3, she shared her mission and experiences with fifth-graders at Anne Hutchinson. Dannauser wanted the students to learn about life outside of Eastchester.
She worked in tech sales while her mother was sick with cancer, and after her mother passed away, Dannhauser said she realized she didn't like her job. "My mother had always been an influential person in my life, demonstrating the importance of giving back. I was young. I was healthy and I decided to follow that example. It was the best decision I ever made."
She lived more than two years in Cameroon, Africa, where she focused on agriculture, food security and improving production. She taught village men and women how to grow food and the king of one village planted 5,000 avocado trees.
Students looked astounded when they learned how schools were built in Africa with mud bricks, that people traveled on dirt roads and how Dannhauser adjusted to a simple life without cell phones and even running water.
"People do everything with their hands. This taught me to be grateful for what I have," said student Mateo Quintero.
Classmate Corinne Dunleavy said, "I think it is a great idea to help people in another country."
Dannhauser wants her visit to complement the students’ curriculum. They will soon read the book, “A Long Walk to Water.”
Dannhauser, who is the sister-in-law of teacher Dana Dannhauser, wrote a memoir about her service in Cameroon called "Nothing Works But Everything Works Out." She explained that when you have a great idea or plan, it often falls to pieces. "Nothing works out the way you expected it to, but it works out in the end."
Dannhauser is studying to become a Human Rights Attorney and would like to return to Cameroon one day. While there, two kings bestowed on her the title of Princess, but what she said she misses the most are the people she met each day.