As the Monroe Bearcats Class of 2014 completed their senior year, it wasn’t only their own schooling they had in mind.
The Associated Student Body took on a project to help kids halfway around the world also get an education, and set out to raise $10,000 to help build a school in the small town of Oloirien in Kenya, in partnership with the global non-profit organization Free the Children.
Hundreds of kids ended up involved throughout the year, Monroe High School Activities Director Jaime Johnson said.
They worked really hard,” she said. “They had a bunch of fundraisers.”
The kids had an ongoing campaign called “We Create Change,” and the idea was to collect change all year.
The core ASB class of 30 initiated the campaign, but fundraisers involved many students.
“There was a Battle of the Bands, and there was a talent show, and then there was a “Mr. Monroe” contest, which was a guy’s pageant, a spoof on pageants,” said Johnson. “And we did lunch activities, too. It probably involved 500-700 of the kids throughout the year.”
Despite the best efforts of the students, though, the project was short $1,700 with two weeks to go in the school year.
But then one student stepped forward.
“This one kid was really passionate about it, and he he stepped forward and wanted to give the rest, and he and his family donated it,” said Johnson. “And he didn’t want any recognition, which is even more amazing.”
Now the money will go to Free the Children, which has a mission to “empower youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens.”
The organization works throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America to not only improve schools, but homes and communities, all in hopes of strengthening the villages to then raise children able to reach their full potential.
The town of Oloirien in Kenya has about 3,000 people in it, mostly Maasai livestock famers. Currently, the one school in the village is not big enough for all the children, with only nine rudimentary classroom for 501 students, who also must all share two toilets.
Free the Children just broke ground on a new school, which Monroe’s students’ fundraising efforts will help pay for. The first day of the project, more than 100 villagers gathered to help and celebrate the kick-off of the project.
Watching Monroe students show such passion to help children so far away was inspiring, said Johnson.
“I loved how they fought for this,” she said. “It took a lot of work.”