Students Build Hope for Kenyan children
Education: Red Deer Lake School adds classroom at African school
Wednesday, Nov 02, 2011 09:58 am
A Red Deer Lake School teacher, who has run several marathons, wasn’t scared of hitting the wall when she walked to school last April. She was scared of hitting an elephant.
Red Deer Lake school teacher Elizabeth Critchley was walking to a school in Kenya.
“We left at 6:30 a.m. for the 8km walk and the first three kilometres is through an elephant corridor,” Critchley said during a Building Hope presentation in late September. “I was thinking they saw elephants once every three weeks or so. I asked a young student, Jacob, how often he saw elephants. He told me every day. I was horrified.”
If they saw elephants Jacob’s advice was something Critchley does well — run.
Critchley was walking to a school in Ewaso Ngiro, Kenya in order to see the results of a fundraising effort initiated by Red Deer Lake students who collected more than $21,000 to build two new classrooms for the school.
Critchley attended a reception at the new school in Kenya which was attended by David Collins, the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya.
However, the Red Deer Lake students aren’t done yet.
They are continuing to raise funds at the Kindergarten to Grade 9 school just south of Calgary for the Building Hope program. Their next goal is to bring some of their new African friends to Red Deer Lake School.
“We would like to bring David (Ole Nikuto) and Merry Purcell from Kenya to Red Deer Lake School,” Critchley said. “We want them to tell our kids their stories of growing up and all the cultural things that go with that. How teenage kids have to fight a lion to become a man.”
“We would also like to have David tell how their lives have changed because of our (Red Deer Lake) students’ work.”
David and Merry are two of the leaders in the Kenyan village.
Building Hope is also raising funds to build a new water well for the community. Organizers would also like to build a new primary/kindergarten school in one of the more rural parts of the area.
At present small children do not walk the long distance to school because of the dangers of walking through an elephant corridor.
The proposed school would also be used to help educate the students’ parents.
“Their education is not like here, none of their parents have ever had a formal education,” Critchley said. “We want to start educating the parents after the school day…These are our big dreams.”
Hannah Maksymowich, now a Grade 10 student at Foothills Composite High School, made the trip with Critchley. WHEN DID THEY GOZ???!
“It was really interesting to talk to the kids and how they had to walk so early in the morning,” she said. “We get driven every day and they walk for miles.”
She added several of the Kenyan students have to carry their own chairs to school. She said it made her realize how good Canadians have it at their own schools.
She also found out what it is like to be a visible minority.
“We went to a market and everybody was really nice, but definitely all the eyes were on us,” she said.
She also went on a safari — shooting with a camera rather than a gun.
“It was amazing,” she said.
In addition, Red Deer Lake area resident Rick Castiglione and his family started the Castiglione Family Foundation, which raises funds for causes in Africa.
Castiglione, a former news anchor who currently produces documentaries, is working on a piece for CFCN-TV about the Red Deer Lake School’s project and its positive impact in Kenya.
He also made the trip to Kenya with the group from Red Deer Lake School.
For more information about the Building Hope project go to http://reddeerlake.fsd38.ab.ca/