Written by Sherry
Monday, 01 October 2007 07:18
I've told the story of Claudia Bohnert before but I finally found more information and a picture of her on the Maryknoll Lay Missioners Website:
A little background:
In August of 2005, I received a letter from a recently retired pharmacist (who I had not met) named Claudia who had attended a Called & Gifted workshop in a South Carolina parish (that I did not teach).
As a result of her discernment, she had volunteered to serve as a lay missionary in Tanzania. There she would teach pharmacology at the very first medical school in the country. Claudia’s mission: to enable Tanzanians to qualify for funding for AIDS medications by training them to administer the drugs in question. This woman’s skill and expertise could conceivably save the lives of an entire generation and change the course of a whole nation. When I told her story at a small group gathering in my parish in Colorado Springs, one woman blurted out “She’s like Esther! Who knows but what she has been prepared for such a time as this?”
And now the rest of the story:
Claudia joined MKLM in 2005. Although originally from Bethpage, N.Y., she came to Maryknoll from Annapolis, MD. Claudia holds a PhD in pharmacology and worked for thirty years in the pharmaceutical industry. She has extensive international experience in strategic planning and chairing and working on boards, as well as extensive technical expertise in research and development of drugs.
Claudia was very involved at St. Mary’s Parish in the Diocese of Baltimore, where she taught English as a second language. She also volunteered at an orphanage for AIDS babies, a home for women with AIDS and their children, and a homeless shelter. Claudia received degrees at the State University of N.Y. at Albany and University of Rochester School of Medicine. She is a mother with two grown children.
Claudia teaches clinical pharmacology to medical students at Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences. This is a new medical school founded by the Tanzanian government and Catholic Church, with Weill Cornell Medical College (U.S.), to increase the number of MDs above today’s single MD for every 25,000 Tanzanians. The first class is scheduled to graduate in 2008.
Claudia’s also teaches pharmacology to MDs seeking further specialization, and to Intensive Care Unit staff and anesthetic nurses. Her research at Weill Bugando Medical Centre includes a clinical study of schistosomiasis, a major tropical disease in Africa. She also serves as study coordinator for a large clinical trial of a drug regimen to treat AIDS in the poor in rural Africa who lack access to AIDS drugs used elsewhere.
I am blown away. Claudia is impacting so many lives. What moves me most in reading this is noting how incredibly skilled and experienced Claudia is, what a wealth of knowledge she has to offer. Claudia is an Esther and she has obviously been prepared for just such as time as this.
And yet, the irony is that such a possibility was beyond anything Claudia had ever envisioned for herself. As Claudia put it, “I was deliberating what to do next and whether there might be some purpose for my life.” Discerning her charisms “set me on a path that I’d probably taken years to find on my own.”
What can one person do?