The 28-year-old lawyer flew to Ethiopia last week to start a three-month mission to help children orphaned by AIDS.
“With the number of people dying of AIDS every day, there will be someone I know who knows someone who is dead, or is dying that day,” she says. “I know that for the first few weeks, I’ll be crying a lot.”
The Hollywood Senior High School graduate has been recruited by the Perth arm of an Ethiopia-based charity called Hope for Children, which aims to support the victims of the deadly virus that has already orphaned more than a million children in Ethiopia and is expected to leave another million parentless by the end of 2010.
Ms White, whose employer, law firm Clayton Utz, has sponsored her trip, says she has been preparing mentally for what she will face.
“It’s going to be hard seeing people that sick, who know they’re going to die,” she says.
“I don’t want to get there and not be able to help people, because I can’t deal with things that other people deal with every day.”
Ms White will be based in the capital, Addis Ababa, and will help to liaise between the charity’s founder, social worker Yewoineshet Masresha, and world bodies such as UNICEF.
“What she (Ms Masresha) is doing has already been recognised, but that recognition hasn’t necessarily been translated into money yet,” Ms White says.
Hope for Children began its West Australian chapter after Perth woman and former aid worker Jacqui Gilmour befriended Ms Masresha in Ethiopia, and saw the work she was doing. A sponsorship program provides support for individual children, and the Ethiopian Government has sanctioned land grants for villages to be built to house the orphans, who will receive education, training and medical facilities.
Ms White, who has had more than 11 inoculations to combat different ailments she may contract while in Ethiopia, admits she is nervous about her role, given the alien culture she will face.