MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - At Jackson Hospital nurse Steve James has a servant's heart and a gentle soul. Yet James' life wasn't always so peaceful.
"You're really at a loss of what to do," said James.
3 days after 911 James' 19-year old daughter Britteny, a college student in North Carolina, died unexpectedly. To this day James still doesn't know what happened.
"The world seemed to have come to an end. It was broken, nothing seemed right," said James.
But Steve James' world didn't stay broken for long. It turns out 3 years before she died, Britteny had been sending $24 a month feeding a hungry child in Kenya, Africa, through the Christian Children's Fund. Newton was the boy's name.
"I wasn't sure Newton existed. I had my doubts because all we had were letters," said James.
So James decided to see if Newton was for real and honor Britteny's commitment. James flew to Kenya to meet him. Instead, something else met James.
"That was very difficult," James remembered.
The weight of a vast continent; extreme poverty, no water, children dying of aids and incredibly some sharing hospital beds.
"Nurses didn't have any equipment to protect themselves," said James.
Shock turned into passion.
"I couldn't forget what happened. It changed my focus," he said.
Did it ever. From a hospital nurse to a man being in charge of a relief organization, Kenyarelief.org Steve James is right in the thick of it. With the help of fellow nurses and doctors back home in Alabama and donations, they have shipped 13 40-foot containers filled with medical supplies to 5 hospitals in Migori, Africa.
"Our 13th container arrived today. Those containers are full of medical equipment from beds to syringes," James said.
And the drive to change lives doesn't stop there. James says he started an orphanage now called the Britteny James Home of Grace. Well over a hundred orphaned children for once have education, water, health care and a touch of faith.
"I thank God for this opportunity and I pray the Americans will keep helping people," Nancy said.
"She (Nancy) had been praying that God would deliver her. She told me how this restored her faith," James said.
12 trips in 8 years, and by the way, Steve James did end up meeting Newton.
"It was good to touch him, hug him and see him smile. Newton is 12-years old now," said James.
Steve James tells us he isn't trying to save the world but merely trying to make a difference, one life at a time.
"It's pretty obvious God used this situation," he said.
All in memory of Britteny.
Much like Africa, the problem is gigantic. One million orphans but only 500 or so are getting help through an orphanage like the one Steve James set up.
As part of an in-depth, three-part series, we're looking at Alabama and the expansion of Medicaid. Why should you care? What will it cost the state? We hope to answer many questions through this investigation. Read more in our reports: "The Facts About Medicaid". More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:36 PM EDT2013-05-24 02:36:01 GMT
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