Graduation time for high school seniors is an important moment in their lives filled with excitement and trepidation as they look back at their accomplishments and eye their futures — looking ahead at the universities they will attend, the careers they will seek and the dreams they will pursue.
Cassandra Bastidas probably had some of that on her mind as well when she graduated from Brawley Union High School.
But her focus, then, was quite different.
Her priority in the time leading up to her graduation was raising money for a missionary trip to Uganda, where she would spend six months right after her high school graduation working with orphans and impoverished villagers.
“I knew I wanted to do something before I went off to college,” says Bastidas, who today is 21 and a student at Imperial Valley College.
Though the six months she spent in Uganda at the age of 18 was her longest missionary tour, it was hardly her first or her last.
Since age 15, Bastidas, a devout Christian and member of Christ Community Church, has dedicated time nearly every year to missionary work. It began at age 15 when she spent two weeks in Lima, Peru; the following year at age 16 she returned to Peru for more missionary work. At age 17, she went to South Africa, and at age 18 came the six months spent in Uganda. That was followed with missionary work in Oaxaca, Mexico that next year.
This past summer her missionary work took her to Haiti where Christ Community Church, through a program called Imperial Valley Hope for Haiti, is building a new orphanage.
Through all of her times abroad, she has found herself caring for orphans, supporting the elderly, providing food to the hungry, treating those suffering from lice, and just letting those she came in contact with know that there are those out there who do care about them.
Her evangelical missionary work has taken her to slums and villages where the impoverished live, and her work has even come with some risk. While in Uganda, she became very ill, as she suffered from an infection, possibly malaria.
But any such risk was not about to stop her then, or now.
Read more about Cassandra Bastidas in the November/December 2011 edition of Valley Women Magazine in print or our online E-Edition.