CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For Carol Salisbury, a recent trip to Africa was a life-changing experience.
Salisbury, of South Charleston, was one of six West Virginians who traveled to Tanzania in September to volunteer at two orphanages.
"I loved it," said Salisbury, a nurse at Thomas Memorial Hospital. "We're planning on maybe going back there next year."
Salisbury and the rest of the group, most of whom work in the medical field, volunteered at the Msamaria and Upendo orphanages in Tanzania.
"We don't know how blessed we are here because these kids, they had nothing," Salisbury said. "They had no one to care for them other than the workers, no one to love on them."
In January, Sarah Robinette, an epidemiologist for the Department of Health and Human Resources and one of the group members, had traveled to Africa as a tourist for the first time and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Going to Africa had always been her dream. Robinette said seeing the children there on her tourist trip inspired her to come back as a volunteer. She encouraged the others to do the same.
"The second time we were much closer to the reality of what it's like to live there," Robinette said. "The kids come up to you. ... The need for love and affection is so great and it's true, you come back and appreciate everything you have."
For most of the others, the September trip was the first time they'd been to Africa.
That was true of Salisbury's friend and co-worker, Cindy York, of Logan. York and Salisbury work together at Thomas Memorial Hospital.
"I have a heart for missions and I really wanted to do something for the orphans," York said of her reasons for wanting to go to Africa. "[It was] amazing if I could sum it up in one word. It was very emotional."
The children at the orphanage come from families living in extreme poverty. Their families couldn't provide the children with food, clothing or other needs, so they came to the orphanage.
"This way at least they have a place to rest their head and get something to eat," Salisbury said in a written account of the trip.