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Brookhaven MSU student: ‘Have patience and grace’

Six weeks in Africa brought her clarity.

Anna Carollo, of Brookhaven, now knows that working with a non-profit organization to help other people is what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

The 21-year-old senior at Mississippi State University interned with the Starkville-based non-profit Reclaim Project during the fall 2016 semester, and joined a summer mission trip to Zimbabwe with the ministry this year.

Carollo and her group worked with missionary couple Brett and Allison Barnhill in the town of Gweru, a four-hour drive south of the country’s capital city Harare.

The Barnhills live in a formerly-abandoned seminary building that is currently being refurbished by the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

“It’s a pretty new ministry,” said Carollo.

Carollo’s mission team worked with the first-grade teachers at Zorroro Primary School, a boarding school that also helps orphans. They incorporated games and activities to help the children remember the English words they were learning.

The communications and public relations major said she has always wanted to work with a non-profit, but this summer’s trip made that desire stronger.

“I 100 percent would want to do this again,” she said.

She’s already making plans for next summer.

“It helped me see how people interact, but also with Reclaim Project I got to see how the non-profit works, and what goes on and what you have to do.”

Carollo said the teams also shared the good news of Jesus with the people in the community.

“It’s definitely fulfilling to be there,” she said. “It’s so fast-paced here and when you get there, you see God has you here for a reason.”

One of her favorite experiences was worshiping with the native people.

“I really enjoyed the African church services. There it’s like drums and dancing,” Carollo said, “and they don’t care what other people think. They’re there for one reason.”

Her goal after graduation is to work with a non-profit full-time, to help people — especially children — where they need it most. Part of that is getting to know the people you’re helping.

“It’s really good to put yourself in their culture,” she said, to understand who they are and what their real needs are.

The only experience she thought was less than ideal was when the group had to work without electricity or flowing water for three days, and three people were sick.

“It taught me that we have it so good here, and don’t let the simple things get to you,” Carollo said. “Have patience and grace. Go with the flow.”