Ansley Mayson has already spent an incredible portion of her life focused on servant leadership. At Starr’s Mill High School, Ansley cheered basketball and was a member of BETA club and the National Honor Society. She was (and remains) active in Southside Church and, as a sophomore, became a small group leader, working with a middle school group from their sixth- through ninth-grade years. As leader, she facilitated discussions every Sunday, participated in group outings each month, and attended semester retreats with her group.
In her freshman year, the leader of her own small group, Melanie Dale, told Ansley about Children’s Hope Chest (CHC), an organization that facilitates community-to-community sponsorships for orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, and other countries. In the CHC model, individual sponsors are paired with children overseas, but also have the opportunity to visit on group trips, meet the child and the village, and help work on projects that will benefit the entire community.
Ansley was immediately intrigued by the relationship several local residents were about to begin with the community in Adacar, Uganda, but didn’t think she would be able to participate because she was cheering at the time and anticipated having summer practice during the two weeks of the trip. So when she didn’t make the next year’s cheer team and her summer opened up, she was surprised, but only a little.
“I really loved the idea of working with the kids and families in Uganda, but I just didn’t think I’d have the time,” she explains. “So God made the time.”
On Ansley’s first trip, which was the group’s first working visit to the community, she was excited to meet the child her family was sponsoring. She didn’t know that, on day two, she’d meet a five-year-old girl with a gangrenous wound she’d gotten from spilling hot porridge on her arm. With treatment, the arm cleared up and Ansley decided the girl, Lucy, would be her own personal sponsored child. Eventually, Ansley’s younger sister began sponsoring Lucy’s younger sister and it truly became a family affair.
“That was an incredible trip,” Ansley says. “I expected to find sad people who needed me to cheer them up. Adacar is extremely remote and most people have never left the village. Plus, it’s in an area that’s been horribly affected by wars and invasions. But the people have the most incredible joy. I built such strong relationships with the people over there that I’ve kept going back. It’s really like visiting friends who happen to need some help while we’re there. They inspire me and have changed my perspective on life more than I could ever help them.”
So far, Ansley has been to Adacar five times. She’s helped an eye doctor who provided exams to all the village children, helped raise money for a well, and assisted in the implementation of chicken-raising and local micro-financing programs. This summer, which will likely be her last visit for a while due to the demands of college, she’ll be co-leading the team for the first time.
Melanie, who nominated Ansley for Women to Watch, says that “Ansley’s leadership has been crucial in getting many orphaned and vulnerable children sponsored and sustainable projects developed. The village is thriving in large part because of her dedication.”
Ansley is currently a sophomore at UGA and has just been accepted into the school of journalism. She’s excited about the opportunities ahead of her and says that, while she’s not quite sure which direction she wants to take, she might be interested in doing PR for a non-profit or for another company that’s “doing good things for the world and the community.”
“I really feel I’m in the right place at the right time,” she says. “And that I have a purpose. I can’t wait to find out what it is.”