Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kathryn Taubert, Otherwise Known as Yevu

From the moment I saw Kathryn Taubert walking toward me across the library foyer, I knew we were kindred spirits. With her wispy, flowing white dress, the startling turquoise jewelry, and her warm, intense eyes, she enveloped me with a sense of well being. She would become one of our most popular, patient, volunteer computer coaches.

While she was with us we learned so much about her eclectic background, dolphin trainer, insurance executive, jazz singer! But what I found most interesting of all was the five weeks that she spent as a volunteer worker with the Ewe tribe in Ghana, Africa.

Her book about her extraordinary experiences in Ghana came out a few months ago and the title is perfect. Yevu, which simply means "white woman" in the Ewe language, is an honest, compassionate, and heart-felt book, based upon the blog postings that Kathryn was sending to the local newspaper here in southwest Florida.

So often, when I hear of a person going to Africa to volunteer, I wince at the thought that they have only one mission and that is to proselytize for some religion or another. I can't forget my reading of Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible. Nor can one be familiar with the long, sordid history of the colonization of Africa without being cognizant of the damage that's been done in the name of God.

So what a delight to read Kathryn's glowing account of her five weeks living with a family in a little village a few hours from Accra. Through the Global Volunteer Network, her mission was to help the local leaders draft a grant proposal that would bring needed funding to the village for education. In the course of her work she discovered what I also found in Africa, a place of welcoming delight, where most folks speak multiple languages with ease, putting us to shame with their brilliance. Now think what they could do with an education comparable to ours.

What's especially lovely about Kathryn's book is her humble attitude toward her time in Ghana, realizing that she would learn much more than she would teach. Living with a family severely crowded by our standards, and used to her privacy here at home, was an adjustment that she accepted whole heartedly. She was open to new experiences, food, celebrations, customs at once unfamiliar yet often similar to those we know.

I loved her descriptions of returning from her walks into town and being followed by all the little kids yelling Yevu! Yevu! Because I have the ebook version, I did miss some of the better photographs that you'd get in the print version. We've requested it for the library but I notice it is not in our catalog yet. You can read about Kathryn and her travels (and hear her lovely voice) at

No comments: