Norma was born in Ramallah, Palestine but was raised in Jordan. The late Dr. Robert Darnell and his wife, American missionaries in the Middle East, took her into their home as their own daughter and provided her with care and education. She has worked in Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and the U.S. and traveled extensively in Europe. She speaks Arabic, English, and French. Although she associated with the poor most of her life, through the position and influence of her boss, founder/president/CEO of Royal Jordanian Airlines, Norma was able to meet the late King Hussein of Jordan several times in her own office, and later mingled with other members of royalty.
She was one of the first two Jordanian girls to attend the first private pilot course in Jordan. After starting to fly, her training was interrupted by war and she left Jordan. Norma served as secretary to the AOC (Airline Operators Committee-IATA Approved), and elected for seven years. She was the only woman among 41 international airlines managers serving Cairo International Airport, Egypt. She later became Sales Office Manager, then Egypt Sales Promotion Manager for the airline in Egypt. When she immigrated to America in 1985 she co-authored Speaking Professionally, an intermediate-level course in ESL (English-as-a-second language) targeted to the Middle East.
The idea of caring for needy children began while fighting cancer in 1999, at which time she visited her homeland after an absence of 12 years. She took time to visit the school that she had to clean at 10 years of age to help pay for tuition, a high price to pay for Christian education in a culture that looks down on manual labor. She noticed two students were sent home because their parents could not pay their fees. Immediately her reaction was “How can you punish children for poverty?” It was a natural thing for her to pay $1,000 so that these two innocent children could continue their education. She had done this on several occasions to allow children take their exams when she held the position of Students Account Manager in one school.
Nothing is more important to a displaced child than a stable environment, which is the reason that Norma is determined to see such children sheltered, protected and cared for in homes (orphanages) that provide for their physical and emotional needs; and at the same time ensure access to basic education impacting their lives. Her ministry has grown to serve thousands of children in multiple countries.
In 1999, after returning from a trip to Jordan, her homeland, she quit her job and started planning and organizing what has developed to be Restore a Child, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization registered in the State of Maryland in 2010.