Students raise $10,000 for Kenyan school
Townspeople in Oloirien, Kenya broke ground on their new school last year.
In Monroe, students spent all year raising money to help the village.
MONROE — A focus on serving others enlightened Monroe High School students to raise $10,000 toward supporting education in Kenya.
The money will go to a school in Oloirien, Kenya through the nonprofit group Free The Children.
In Oloirien, population 3,000, the main occupation is raising livestock.
Jaime Johnson, Monroe High’s English department chair and student government mentor, wanted students to pitch in toward the school to engage them with a structured goal.
“We started with the idea that we wanted to do something more structured in service,” Johnson said. “The basic premise of Free the Children is they want kids helping kids – kids serving kids.” The nonprofit has five goals for its Adopt-A-Village model: Health, education, sustainable economy, cleaner water,and culture.
“We focused on the education pillar,” Johnson said.
By raising $8,300 just before the end of the year, focus they did.
Every $20 the students raised bought a brick to be added to a structure, most likely a new school or addition to the existing school in the village in Kenya.
The group of 30 Monroe High students began their fundraising efforts at Homecoming and grew from there.
“The kids got really excited about the idea and really took it on,” Johnson said.
A carnival and other events at Homecoming raised $1,200. A kiss-the-pig event raised $250. Battle of the Bands this past January raised $2,000.
The group did other small and large fundraisers throughout the school year.
Johnson said the most important part of the whole process was educating the students, their parents and peers about why serving others, no matter how far away, was important and conducive to the “we are one” view of the world.
“We are all united, we are all one, and we need to serve each other,” Johnson said.
At a glance, the adult literacy rate in Kenya is 84 percent and the
average life expectancy is age 54. About 46 percent of the population lives in absolute poverty, according to the Free The Children website.
Free The Children began in Canada with the efforts of two then-junior high students, Craig and Marc Kielburger. The men are now in their 30s, and their organization has become an international success to empower youth through service.
Shortly following Monroe High’s We Are One week, the students made their first donation to Free The Children and were matched to a village in Oloirien, Johnson said.
After hitting that first mark, they continued to try to get to their big goal.
By the last week of school, however, they were just at $8,300. Johnson said the seniors were frustrated, but a secret donor gave them joy.
One student, who wishes to maintain anonymity, and his parents presented a check to the tune of $1,700 to reach the $10,000 goal.
“That was amazing and awesome, and incredibly generous,” Johnson said of the big donation. “He (the student) was very passionate about it and wanted the school to hit that goal in that way. To be able to tell my class that that happened, their faces just lit up and they were so excited and happy and relieved.”
Johnson and the students will know exactly what their funds will go toward by the end of summer — either to a new school or to add on to the existing school in Oloirien.