Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:05 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homer woman embarking on second Africa adventure

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photo provided

Lydia Kleine, center, sits with friends on her visit in 2010 to Zanzibar, Africa.

She's been from Alaska to Zanzibar, and with her next trip to Africa, Lydia Kleine will hit the middle of the alphabet: Morogoro, Tanzania. Kleine, 22, leaves soon for a nine-month volunteer stint at SEGA, the Secondary Education for Girls Advancement, in Morogoro.

The daughter of Nancy and Ken Kleine, Lydia Kleine grew up in Homer. She recently graduated with a degree in animal biology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. Last year she worked on a project in coastal ecology in Zanzibar, an island country off Africa's east coast. That experience led her to go back to Africa.

SEGA, supported by the U.S. based nongovernmental organization Nurturing Minds, is an all-girls day and boarding school for ages 12 to 16 with the philosophy that educating girls is the route to saving poor countries, Kleine said.

"The hope is the girls will be able to go to college," she said. "They'll have a high school education and be able to get a good job."

At SEGA, Kleine will be the environmental education adviser, running a biology and environment club and helping teachers improve the curriculum. SEGA uses solar power and has a large garden, part of its philosophy of sustainability.

Kleine will be at SEGA with Jesse Borhees, a friend she met in Zanzibar and from New Jersey. Borhees will teach English at SEGA. The women will live in an apartment in Morogoro about six miles from the SEGA campus until volunteer housing is finished. She and Borhees wanted to return to Africa after their Zanzibar experience and chose SEGA after looking at schools in Tanzania.

The cost of the volunteer work is about $5,000 a year for each woman, including about $100 a month for food and rent. Most of the expense is for air travel. Kleine and Borhees will pay for most of their expenses, but are looking for donations of about $1,000 to $2,000 to cover the balance.

With her biology and conservation experience, Kleine carries on a family tradition. Her grandfather, the author and historian Jim Rearden, was area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and her uncle Mike Rearden was the former area manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Kuskokwim River Delta.

Jim Rearden encouraged Kleine when she first went to Africa and reassured her parents.

"He's been one of the most supportive of my Africa obsessions," she said of Rearden. "Grandpa over and over said, 'I'm really supportive of you going. She's going to be great.'"

For more on SEGA and Nurturing Minds, visit its website at www.nurturingmindsinafrica.com. People interested in helping her cover expenses can contact Kleine at 39955 Highview Court, Homer AK 99603, or call (907) 299-0496.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.