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Mother for African Orphans: Kay Oursler



Kay Oursler is a person whose life has had many different chapters. Now the Arkansan lives in Tanzania most of the year to fulfill a pledge to help orphans. Villagers call her Bibi Kay because Bibi means grandmother, and she has given a home and new life to many.

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Kay Oursler: "I guess I think of myself as a caregiver. I have been taking care of people all my life, children, my mother, and now a village in Tanzania."

(Locator: Hot Springs Village, Ark.)

"My name is Kay Oursler and I live in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas two months out of the year. The rest of the time I live in Tanzania, East Africa."

"I am 71-years-old and there's no healthcare where I live.

There's no running water and no stove. I cook here in the morning on a kerosene stove."

"Some of my neighbors in the U.S. would say, 'I think you're too old to live like that.' I was a camper all my married life so I kind of like to rough it."

(Looking at photos) "See the buckets on the ground there? I wash clothes in those, wash dishes at the table there, feed my chickens&ellipsis;"

(Locator: Uhekule, Tanzania)

(Feeding chickens) "If you don't lay eggs today, you'll be our dinner tonight."

"After 46 years of marriage my husband and I separated and I had to start a new life. At age 65, I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Tanzania."

"I saw so many children. They're not street kids, I call them bush kids 'cause they lived in the bush. These children are orphans mainly because of HIV/AIDS."

"And so my thoughts were to build an orphanage. Corny as it may sound, it was truly a calling."

"They come here. They get three meals a day, a lovely place to stay and they are thriving. They are learning. We could take in 60 if I had the staff and if I had the money to pay the staff."

"I came back to the U.S. in 2008 and fundraised and started making the plans, for the building of the orphanage."

"I joined Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church and found some really interesting people giving me some funds to support a project. I especially like the care packages they send me every month."

The Rev. Walter Smith, Pastor, Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church: "Kay is an inspiration to others who think that at a certain time and stage in their life, they can't do it. They're too old to do it. Not Kay Oursler."

(Kay shows pictures on computer screen) "He was living with his 20-year-old brother who was always working in the field, so I don't know who fed him."

"Today I'm visiting a church in Hot Springs Village where a group of women are making uniforms for the boys and girls in our orphanage."

Voice of Sheila Ford, Member,Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church: "I hope that in our little way, we are contributing to her success."

(Looking at jackets) "Those are beautiful, gee!"

"Sometimes I would think, 'How can I do this?' But, you know, God gives us so much power, when we ask for it, and he gave me the help I needed to get going."

"We formed an NGO, a non-government organization, with the villagers, and they did make 90,000 mud bricks."

"This building here has a library, an office, a big dining room, a kitchen."

"A man in California was kind enough to give us solar power, and a lady in Little Rock, a tractor."

(Pumps wheel on tractor) "We have to use a bicycle pump on the tractor, 'cause we don't have a generator."

"We have a hundred acres of land given to us by the village."

"I've learned so much about the culture in Africa, HIV/AIDS. I've seen a five-year-old, a twelve-year-old, and an eighteen-year-old pass away from AIDS and I knew these children, and it was very difficult for me."

"I've had to learn to have faith, more faith than I've ever had in my life that God would get me through this. I hear him over there, I don't hear him in America. He gives me strength. He gives me everything I need to do the job, except patience, and I do not have patience. " (Laughs)

"People ask me sometimes, 'Do you think you are making a difference Kay?' I'm not sure but I think I am. I hope I am. I've given six years of my life to this village. And unless, if I get sick, I'll have to come home, but for right now, I still have energy, I still have challenges, and I still have lots of work to do."


Future plans include an infirmary on the property. To find out more about Kay's work in Tanzania, visit

By the way, BibiKay has eight biological grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Posted: August 17, 2011