Joie Kallison

The Power of One

Amy Zindell, Minneapolis, MN
February 1, 2001

When I was ten, my biggest concern in life was making the soccer team. My best friend Joie’s was saving the environment.
When I was fifteen, I spent sleepless nights wondering if my new crush would ask me to the school dance. And Joie. . .well, she would spend sleepless nights telling me about the inequitable state of our society.
When I was twenty-three, I was knee-deep in my first career, with my sights set on conquering the world of journalism. Joie joined the Peace Corps and boarded a plane to Namibia, Africa, her sights set on changing the world.

For six months I received the most amazing letters from Joie, letters delving into the heart and soul of a country that only ended up on the map of my life when Joie departed on her final journey. Through her letters, I followed her path of discoveries, felt the joy in her heart when she brought laughter to people who spoke a language she was struggling to learn, and used her teaching skills to reach into the hearts of children and help them discover the beauty not just in education, but in life. “I have found freedom with these African spirit children,” she wrote. And, as always, I remained inspired by Joie, by her work, and by her ability to see the beauty in the sunrises, the sunsets, and the simplicity of a child’s laugh.

On March 13, 1998, Joie died in a tragic car accident in Namibia. When a light as bright as Joie burns out, it is often difficult to describe her to those who never knew her. I wondered how I would ever be able to share her impact with the rest of the world.

And then I discovered Deep Roots.Founded by two Peace Corps volunteers who served with Joie in Namibia, Deep Roots strives to capture the ineffable magic that was Joie by expanding and improving educational opportunities for Namibian children. The organization has opened my eyes to the fact that one person’s memory really can move mountains. In some way, Joie’s memory has brought together every member of the virtual, entirely volunteer-staffed organization. We work from all corners of the globe, and many of us wouldn’t recognize each other if we passed on the street. Yes these people are some of the most important in my life because we’re connected by the common bond of preserving the memory of someone we love, and the knowledge that — through Deep Roots — we all contribute something very important to the world.

This year, Deep Roots will be able to fund the secondary educations of 68 Namibian children. It’s a profound example of how the inspiration of just one person — even in a short life — can have such an impact on the lives of others.

Just one person.

I carry Joie’s mantra in my heart as a reminder that we all can make a difference by filling our lives with love and laughter:

“Go and find the sun that will fill you with warmth and happiness and you will see the days unfolding around you are the good days, the days of pleasure and dance, the days when you can breathe more clearly because you feel alive, because you are alive, living days that mean something to you. Embrace yourself, embrace all whom you love and believe in possibility.”

All the best,
Amy Zindell

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2 Responses to Joie Kallison

  1. Beth Dunn February 15, 2024 at 3:01 pm #

    Amy your heartfelt words do a beautiful job of capturing Joie’s zest for life and her desire to improve our planet. You and she were so blessed to share so many years of friendship together. ❤

  2. Robert Hite March 27, 2021 at 9:11 am #

    I served in Namibia 2002-2004 and worked with Deep Roots. I am now working with Friends of Namibia International (FONI) and would like to link with Deep Roots to work on projects, etc. FON is also are FB page.

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