Troy University alumna D’Andrea Weeks begins her day like most – bathing, making coffee and preparing for her morning commute to the office. That’s where the similarities end though for the 1996 graduate, who serves as the acting program director of Child Voice International (CVI), an organization that aids children in worn-torn Northern Uganda.
Founded by Conrad Mandsager, CVI was formed to address the long-term needs of children affected by the country’s 20-year rebellion by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has maintained its forces through the years by kidnapping children and forcing them to become soldiers. An estimated 65,000 children have been abducted since the beginning of the war.
Weeks was introduced to CVI’s founder at an informational meeting that was organized by one of her friends. When the five hour meeting ended at nearly 1 a.m., Weeks knew she wanted to be a part of the effort.
“I shared Conrad’s passion for developing a post-modern approach to rehabilitation. This means establishing a model of rehabilitation for children soldiers by applying the best known practices from many different disciplines,” Weeks said. “I wanted to be a part of something that actually makes a lasting, positive effect on those that need it the most.”
As a part of her duties, Weeks oversees CVI’s clinic, the first medical facility in the area. The clinic is currently seeing 1,500 patients a month and contains both a maternity ward and a lab. The clinics offer not only basic care, but HIV and malaria testing, as well as community health education.
CVI also has established a rehabilitation center for children affected by the war, which Weeks oversees. The center provides young women and child mothers a chance at a new life through basic education classes and vocational and life skills training.
“I feel like I must be an expert in everything,” Weeks said.
Tiffany Hess, a media volunteer with the organization, has nothing but praise for Weeks’ work with CVI.
“Not only is D’Andrea a confidant for the girls, but she is a friend who often cooks, plays and chats with them in their own language. Weeks is an anchor at CVI in almost every arena,” Hess said.
Weeks earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from TROY, minoring in communication with the hearing impaired. She also holds a master’s in rehabilitation counseling from Mississippi State University and just completed coursework for her Master in Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training in Vermont.
She has previously worked as a case manager and transition specialist at the Helen Keller National Center in Long Island, as a social worker at the Iowa School for the Deaf and as a member of Peace Corp.
One of Week’s most memorable experiences at TROY was the impact of her research professor. “This professor taught me the importance of hard work, how to face my challenges head on, and not to shy away from academic pursuits,” Weeks said.
Weeks believes the foundation for the work she does today began during her time at TROY.
“TROY provided me with an excellent platform in counseling and in the development of vulnerable populations, which I have utilized in every phase of my life since graduating from Troy.”