I have a daughter who lives in Africa.
She is a Milton High School, Pensacola State College and FSU graduate - with honors at all three. She was a cheerleader all four years and coached cheerleading for younger girls at Milton's camp.
Now she lives in a small house in an African village. She has no running water, intermittent electricity, and occasional Internet. Her assignment is the empowerment of young women. She teaches reproductive education and HIV prevention to young women in her village.
She was chosen as a trainer for the Peace Corps new recruits coming into Africa.
Her first night there, in 2011, some African dancers performed for the new Peace Corps volunteers arriving in Africa - and she got up and danced with them.
In Africa, she has eaten termites and monkey. Her water has to be disinfected before she drinks it. Last year, she rode across town on the back of a "moto" (motorcycle taxi) with a dead rabbit in a bag because someone brought it to her as a gift and told her to cook it. She took it to someone who knew how.
She almost died three times since she's arrived over there in 2011 - the first happened one day on a moto that crashed twice with her on the back on muddy clay roads. While she was lying on the road, two other motos raced past them, just inches from where she lay in the roadway. The second time when she was nearly accosted by armed bandits (she was saved when people she has befriended in her village warned her) - and the third when she caught a severe case of malaria earlier this year.
She is supposed to come home this November for good, but she may stay for another year.
I asked her before she left to work with the Peace Corps, why now? Why can't she wait until she's older to do something like this? She told me it is because she wants these experiences to be part of who she is for the rest of her life.
Now that she's been gone nearly two years, I understand what she means. Her level of tolerance for the world has changed without question.
This is the same girl who, just two weeks before she left for Africa, screamed from across the house when she saw a cockroach in the house. Now she has large spiders living in her attic and she shrugs when she talks about them. She has never been a good housekeeper, and now the little neighbor boys in her village come over and clean her house when she lets it get sloppy.
She bathes from a bucket and her toilet is a hole in the ground inside the "bathroom" in the house.
She lives alone in a strange country educating young people about things that could save their lives.
She is 23 and she's my hero.