The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


May 16, 2013

ELCA member and Peace Corps volunteer dies in Ghana

Danielle Dunlap

Danielle Dunlap, 25, a Peace Corps volunteer and member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Atlanta, died April 28 after becoming ill while serving in Krobo, Central Region, Ghana. The cause of death was later found to be malaria, a preventable, treatable disease for which the ELCA Malaria Campaign is raising $15 million by 2015.

This August, Dunlap would have completed her two-year stint as a health worker, focusing on community outreach in the areas of nutrition, HIV/AIDS, and malaria awareness and sanitation.

In a news release Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Peace Corps deputy director, said Dunlap was widely respected and “an exceptional role model [for youth in Jukwa Krobo]. The entire Peace Corps family is grieving over this tragic loss. During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Dani’s loved ones and her community both here and in Ghana.”

Dunlap successfully led an effort to raise funds and develop plans for a medical clinic currently under construction in the village where she served. Residents said the facility will be named in honor of Dunlap, a young woman with boundless energy and enthusiasm who loved to dance and was their “Mama Grace.” At a memorial service in Ghana, several young women performed a dance piece Dunlap had choreographed for them.

ELCA pastor Beverly Wallace preached at Dunlap’s funeral on May 11 at Emmanuel — about a decade after confirming her. “While my heart hurts, I smile when I think of Danielle,” said Wallace, who now serves as assistant professor and director of ministry and context at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. “She was determined and committed. I am grateful that my former confirmation student made a difference in the world, even in her short life.”

Dunlap’s “legacy of service will indeed live on” at Mama Grace Hospital, she added.

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Dunlap lived in several countries where her mother served as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department. In Haiti and South Korea, she learned Spanish and Korean. As a student at Brown University, Providence, R.I., she helped recruit other ethnic minority students, taught children with asthma to swim, and worked on sleep research projects. She graduated from Brown in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, hoping to pursue a career in health care. She cared deeply about Christian missionary work, and at the time of her death had been accepted into a public health degree program at Emory University, Atlanta.

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