The Gift of Hope

Last week I wrote about Amani, a Rwandan girl who wants to become a doctor. She is on the way to fulfilling her dream because Every Child is My Child, a non-profit organization that funds secondary school scholarships for students in Rwanda and Burundi, is sending her to high school. I said in last week’s post (“Educating Every Child”) that I would write this week about what my students here in Indiana have done to raise money for Every Child so that Amani and children like her can go to secondary school.

If you haven’t read last week’s post, here’s the short version of the need: In rural Rwanda, the scene of genocide in 1994, families in poor communities struggle to educate their children. For most of the children, secondary education (grades 7-12) is out of the question because the school fees are too steep. In Burundi, the scene of a terrible civil war in 1994, the circumstances are as dire if not worse. Secondary school students in these countries need to pay tuition to attend boarding schools. They must buy uniforms, purchase books, and bring their own mattresses with them to their distant schools. A year of secondary school in Rwanda is about $300—a small amount compared to the cost of education in America. In Burundi, a year of secondary school is only $100. Every Child is My Child promises a high school education to the 6th graders in their partner schools if they study hard and pass the entrance exams—and the children are eager to learn.

sm Ngenda schoolroomIn the elementary classrooms in Rwanda—which I have visited—there are no posters on the walls, no books, and few visual aids —just a teacher, a blackboard, copy books and pencils. The students write everything they hear from their teachers and everything they see on the board in their copy books—and they study what they have written.  Against all odds, they are on grade level with 6th graders in the United States.  And they are hungry to learn more.

Two years ago, my students made posters—alphabet art—for the walls of these primary schools. Last year they made flags.

But the most important gift my students have given to the children of Rwanda and Burundi is the gift of a high school education: Each year they have raised a substantial amount of money for scholarships for children like Amani.

sm Senior Send-offsMy students have worked the concessions at football and basketball games. They have sold garbage bags to adults and “candygrams” (lollipops with a note attached are delivered to fellow students in their classes just before holidays) to their peers. At the end of the school year, they have served as scribes and couriers, delivering last minute “Farewell and Congratulations!” notes from underclassmen to graduating seniors. They have conducted fund drives by selling snacks in the cafeteria at lunch.

They are not alone in their devotion to the Every Child scholars. In Bismarck, 4 kids jewelryNorth Dakota, students at Horizon Middle School–with the help of two dedicated teachers and a parent volunteer–are also raising money for Every Child. For several years, these middle schoolers sold tie-dyed t-shirts  and socks to their peers and to community members. They created pencil packs out of duct tape and supplied just about everyone in their middle school with these colorful carrying cases. Now they are selling handmade jewelry–bracelets, necklaces, earrings–and sending the proceeds to Every Child.

These American teenagers are making a difference in the lives of children in Africa by helping them achieve what is taken for granted in our country: a high school education.  The money they raise is a gift of hope for a better life for the children there and a better world for all of us.

If you are a teacher and have an idea for an Every Child service project you’d like to do with your students, I’d be glad to talk particulars with you. Just contact me by responding in the comment section to this blog. Consider changing the world with us.

To learn more about Every Child is My Child, visit these sites:

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