NBC anchor Christine Bellport walked into HospiceCare Inc. in January 2005 to inquire about opportunities to help those facing the end of their life. Little did she know, that moment would change her life.
The CEO of the Madison and Janesville-based organization, Susan Phillips, spontaneously proposed to her the trip of a lifetime: A journey to Kenya to volunteer with the hospice’s sister care center in Meru. Christine accepted and turned her experience into an NBC series to educate the public about Africa’s desperate need for help. Today, she continues to volunteer with HospiceCare and talk about Africa’s needs.
SM: What made you decide to take the offer to volunteer in Africa so quickly?
Bellport: Going to volunteer in Africa was a no-brainer. My sense of adventure [made me give an] immediate ‘yes.’ You make a million decisions a day, but [accepting] this offer led me to the most profound experience of my life. My grandparents were in need of hospice care in their final years. It wasn’t just about Africa, it’s about all the people who need care and deserve respect. As a journalist, I knew right away that I should involve NBC.
SM: What were your first reactions upon arriving in Kenya?
Bellport: I thought, ‘these are the worst conditions I’ve seen in my life.’ But, I didn’t really let it all in until the ninth day. Before that, I would work intensely. I was always behind a camera or a notebook. But on the ninth day, I visited an orphanage [and] I held a little boy named Chris in my arms. His body was burning with fever and when they took him away from me, he wouldn’t stop reaching for me. I couldn’t hide my emotions inside my work anymore; I wept uncontrollably.