When Paul Gibson lost his job at Hewlett-Packard, he decided on a career move -- half a world away.
Gibson said he was "laid off/retired" when HP bought out Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and at the same time his wife, Janet, decided to move to Jinja, Uganda, to work fulltime with the Children of Grace organization.
Children of Grace helps youngsters orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Gibson and his wife learned about the group from their son, Phillip, who went to Uganda on a missions trip in 2008.
Phillip came back excited over the work Children of Grace is doing.
"He and I went on a short term trip and that's how we became aware of this organization and what it does," Gibson said. "My wife went over about four months later."
The rest is a series of coincidences: Gibson, who'd been in information technology for his entire career, went to HP in the buyout, only to lose his job. About the same time, Children of Grace, which had been run in Africa, changed its leadership.
"It came up that we needed to find a leader for Children of Grace in Uganda," he said. "The opportunity came up and we decided that we were going to take a change of life direction. My heart and passion was to be in this business, to do to something that gave a meaningful purpose to my life."
Janet Gibson said the decision to change nearly everything about their lives was a mutual one.
"It was more of a joint thing," she said. "We kind of got the same idea, together."
"Both my wife and I thought this was manna from heaven," Gibson said. "The only consideration we had is -- we have four children, the youngest of which is a rising freshman in high school."
The idea of moving nearly 6,000 miles away from her friends didn't sit well with 14-year-old Cassidy.
"When we first told her it was very hard. In fact we had second thoughts," Janet said. "It was very hard the first night but there's a lot of people in the (Community Presbyterian Church) community, people in the youth group that really encouraged her. Within a few days she really had a change of heart. I think she's real fearful still, but trusting, too."
Gibson said electronic communication will let Cassidy stay in touch with her friends -- and stay in school as well. She'll attend San Ramon Valley Unified School District's Venture School.
"She has gone from being quite upset to being accepting and supportive," he said.
Cassidy wants to be a photojournalist, and the move will give her that opportunity.
"She's going to be our local reporter. That's been an angle she wants to be involved in," Gibson said.
He and his family will live in a home on land owned by Children of Grace, and he'll be working with the kids every day.
"There's approximately 800 kids," Gibson explained. Children of Grace, he said, runs a school, buying books and supplies, along with providing health care and other services.
"We have a multi-purpose facility of about 2,500 square feet. We have a staff of eight -- we call them mentors. Their jobs are to help us select the kids that are eligible to be sponsored and then provide sort of holistic oversight," he added.
Jinja is the second-largest city in Uganda, with a population of about 50,000, and surroundings that bring the area's population into the millions, he said. The city is on Lake Victoria, at the head of the Nile, near the equator, about 50 miles from Kampala, the capital.
Gibson described the area as "the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic" with millions of children in an area of about 100 square miles.
Children accepted at the school are those who have lost one or both parents through AIDS. While most children in Uganda only attend primary school, those accepted at Children of Grace will attend high school plus vocational training.
"If we can get them in school and keep them in school, you've got a generation who can help themselves," Gibson said.
Although Children of Grace is a faith-based organization, it's not tied a particular church, so sex education is part of the curriculum.
"For us it's a matter of teaching healthy living. We teach abstinence, but we teach a full range of safe practices," Gibson said. "This is all about the kids. For us it's about service and what we can do to help the kids."