After looking into the eyes of needy orphans in Africa and Cen­tral America, Claire Fischer—not long grad­u­ated from a Chicago-​​area high school—began to see a better future for them.
Then she crafted a plan to make it come true.

Working with All Hands on Deck for Africa, a startup NGO in Ghana, Fis­cher last year helped to found a foster home, the Mawuli Apeme (God is Here Home) in the cap­ital, Accra, using seed money she per­son­ally raised though fundraisers in her hometown.

She did all of this before her eigh­teenth birthday.

Now 19, and attending North­eastern Uni­ver­sity as an inter­na­tional affairs major, the young pow­er­house will return to the Ghanaian foster home in Jan­uary on a co-​​op expe­ri­ence. Her goal: to develop a busi­ness plan for the home, and create a model that could be emu­lated at foster homes any­where in the world.

Really long term, I hope to elim­i­nate over­pop­u­lated orphan­ages so kids can get indi­vidual atten­tion and care,” Fis­cher says. “When you’re living with 120 kids, you’re just not get­ting emo­tion atten­tion or the life lesson skills you need to develop your­self as a person in society.”

Mawuli Apeme houses just six boys, ages 13 to 22. The money she raised pays for the phys­ical space, as well as modest meal plans, health care and daily living expenses. In exchange, the boys attend school every day, keep the home tidy and main­tain good behavior, she says.

Each boy receives a dollar a day toward a sav­ings account, another dollar a day for med­ical care, three dol­lars for food and an extra dollar a day for extra expenses. The idea is this will help break the cycle of poverty,” she explains.
Fis­cher came early to the con­cept of global aware­ness, and chose North­eastern Uni­ver­sity specif­i­cally for its co-​​op pro­gram and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion, which dove­tailed with her pas­sion for inter­na­tional service.

Prior to her Ghana expe­ri­ences, Fis­cher trav­eled to Zambia in 2005 with the inter­na­tional Chris­tian relief orga­ni­za­tion World Vision. She took the trip after grad­u­ating a semester early from high school and raising money for the charity.

Zambia is where I fell in love with Africa,” she says.

After touring poor vil­lages and seeing how finan­cial relief could bring about vast improve­ments to living con­di­tions — dirty water giving way to clean well water and hos­pi­tals, once unsan­i­tary, now gleaming — Fis­cher was deter­mined to get involved, she says.

In another series of trips she made to orphan­ages in El Sal­vador before col­lege, Fis­cher became deter­mined to work on behalf of help­less children.

This work found me, I did not find it,” she says. “I saw a problem and thought there must be a way to fix it.”

To learn more about Inter­na­tional Affairs at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, visit http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​i​n​t​e​r​n​a​t​i​o​n​a​l​a​f​f​a​i​rs/