Two of Abilene’s spunkiest women, longtime friends Ellie Hamby and Dr. Sandra Hazelip, are planning a monumental trip in celebration of their 80th birthdays two years from now.

In January 2022 they will embark on their “80/80 World Journey,” hitting all the cities visited by Englishman Phileas Fogg in the Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in Eighty Days.”

It would be hard to find two better represenatives of Women’s History Month, which is celebrated every March. The two Abilenians, accomplished in their own fields, already have traveled much of the world together over the years.


Ellie Hamby, left, and Dr. Sandra Hazelip Photo by Loretta Fulton

The classic Jules Verne novel, published in 1872, was made into a movie in 1956 starring David Niven. The two Abilene friends may not be in a movie, but their trip will be well documented on social media, with professional photography by Hamby. The publicity already has started. The two women have a website, www.aroundtheworldat80.com

And, updates and photos can be found on Facebook and Instagram:

Ellie Hamby is well known for her work with the Zambia Mission Fund, which supports a hospital, schools, radio station, and medical clinics in the bushland of southern Zambia. Sandra or “Sandy” Hazelip is a physician, specializing in geriatric care. She has made several mission trips to the Zambia Mission. Both women have been honored at the annual Tree of Mercy benefit dinner, named for a sycamore tree that provides shade for people who may have walked miles in the sun seeking treatment at the medical facility in the Zambian village of Namwianga. 

 Hamby has been involved with the Zambian mission, along with her late husband Kelly, a former Abilene Christian University education professor, since 1980. The couple lived in Zambia for six years, where Kelly served as headmaster at a school that had been established in the 1920s by Church of Christ missionaries. 

Hazelip’s interest in the Zambian Mission dates to a chance meeting with Hamby and her husband at a medical missions workshop in Dallas after the death of Hazelip’s husband, Donald, in 1999. 

After Kelly Hamby’s death in 2005, Ellie and Sandra Hazelip became good friends, missions partners, and travel companions.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“We are independent “2nd class” travelers. Our adventures will not be planned by a travel agent, nor will it involve luxurious hotels or gourmet meals. Instead, we will spend our money on “experience” and not “comfort.” Our greatest joy is mingling with the locals. When you travel as independent travelers, nothing ever goes as planned, so fortunately, we share the same travel philosophy, an old Arab Proverb says it perfectly: “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” We have had many “travel crises,” but at least we haven’t been arrested, well… we have come close – more about that when we do some reminiscing.

Traveling with a physician and a photographer brings its own set of interesting situations. Dr. Sandy always insists we take a tablespoon of Pepto Bismol every morning, and Ellie, the photographer, insists we get up early for the perfect sunrise and stay late for the perfect sunset. When we reflect on the countries we have visited, we remember the magnificent architecture and the lovely countryside, but most memorable is the joy and emotion on the faces of the people.”


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