from March 2009 Newsletter (Volume 4, Issue 1)
When faced with big problems, it’s often easy to assume that only big solutions will make a difference. But one California school showed that small children armed only with the change from their piggy banks and grand ambitions can make a big difference in the lives of students in east Africa.
When Jenn Loewen heard that Hellen Nkuraiya and Sabore Ole Oyie— Maasai leaders and Asante Africa partners—were speaking at the local library last fall, she jumped at the opportunity to take her 8-year-old son to see them. The Orion School teacher had spent several years of her childhood living in Kenya, and wanted to give her son exposure to the people and culture of east Africa.
What began as a friendly conversation between Loewen and the Asante Africa team led to our African ambassadors visiting the Redwood City school and giving a presentation to 185 students ranging in age from kindergarten through 5th grade. Orion School had a history of teaching global citizenship, supporting causes like the Heifer Fund, so the presentation was a natural fit.
The students were so inspired by the experience that they held a walk-a-thon in November to raise money for education in east Africa, wearing beaded bracelets to represent the Maasai tribe, and getting their tags punched for each lap they completed.
The children of Orion School are not wealthy, yet they donated the small change from their piggy banks, requested donations from friends, family and neighbors, and even chose to forego Christmas and birthday gifts in exchange for contributions to the Asante Africa cause.
Together, they raised more than $5,000, money that was used to completely furnish Hellen’s new classroom.
“I’m so proud of what they’ve done,” says Loewen. “For some of these kids, their donations of $5 and $10 are really big contributions from families who don’t have a lot themselves.”
Judging by the smiles on the faces of Hellen’s students, their efforts (sentence needs to be completed, not in original website either)