A local non-profit organization is gearing up for a fundraising event that will help build schools in communities in Africa that need it.
To: Africa From: U.S. (TAFU), founded by Cedar Springs High School science teacher Mary Fournier, has built a dorm, computer lab, a well, and a water tank since its inception in 2009. It has also provided text books and school supplies for schools and mattresses and medical supplies for medical clinics. The next thing TAFU aims to do is build a school building with three functional classrooms for a school in desperate need of them.
“The school that needs it has over 150 students and just 2 classrooms that are not much bigger than a dorm room,” explained Fournier. “The school is for children ages 3-8. It is one of the only schools in the area that does not turn away students with special needs. They have built temporary classrooms from branches and tarps. These rooms are even smaller than a dorm room and they fit about 30 children each with no desks.”
Fournier said they only need $10,000 more to build a school building (it costs $14,000) and they hope to raise it February 1-14 with their Miles to Uganda challenge. Some students, as well as some staff will be making the effort to cover the distance between Cedar Springs and Uganda, 7582.4 miles. Participants will be finding people to sponsor them and then covering as much distance as they can, anyway they can—running, walking, sledding, shopping etc.
At the High School, Fournier said students are getting involved in different ways. Every t-shirt bought raises $5 for the cause. The girls basketball program will be donating money through the miles it covers on the court at their Feb.8 home game to the cause. “This will total more than 200 miles on that night alone,” she noted.
On Feb. 11, following the home basketball games against Coopersville, there will be a dance at the school where some of the proceeds will go to the cause as well. Each hour that someone dances counts as 3 miles. “Cedar students could easily cover over 500 miles at this dance in only a few hours,” said Fournier.
Fournier said she thinks it’s powerful for our students in Cedar Springs to know that their peers half-way around the globe are fighting for a chance at education while we often take it for granted here.
“We, as Cedar Springs, have an opportunity to reach out and make a world of difference to a few hundred children in Africa,” remarked Fournier. “I will watch them build this building this summer as I travel there. The mark I would love to leave there is a big Red Hawk on the side of the school knowing that the great people of Cedar Springs cared enough to make this happen.”
The public can also become involved. To find out more or to register for the hour-long challenge to be held at a local Greenville fitness club on February 5, check out their website at http://2africafromus.com/agenda.html.