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Students take helping hands to Kenya

These girls will head to Kenya to help build a school in March. Here they are posed with a $500 cheque as a donation to their trip from the East Kootenay Community Credit Union - J.Jensen
These girls will head to Kenya to help build a school in March. Here they are posed with a $500 cheque as a donation to their trip from the East Kootenay Community Credit Union
— image credit: J.Jensen

Eight students from Sparwood and Elkford will be heading to Kenya in the spring of 2013 to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Morgan Mudge, Kyra VonMatt, Karlie Sundstrom, Hailly Allardice, Lorraine Gold, Vanessa Davis, Taylor Syjra, and Christy Hawley are anticipating the trip, and  are looking forward to making a difference. The group's self chosen  slogan, "A Hand Up, Not Out," self explains the purpose of their travels.

The trip, lead by Kerrie Purdy and  organized through EF Tours in partnership with Me to We and Free The Children will be composed of an educational  journey, rather than just simply a holiday, giving the girls many opportunities to help others while learning many new  and valuable skills. The eleven day trip will begin with the group settling in the African Village of Schule Ya Bogani in the Maasai Mara area. They will  spend a lot of time volunteering and assist locals in building a school, help with reforestation efforts, trek with locals to get fresh water, learn the native language and traditions and take courses on leadership and the Swahili language. They will learn of issues that affect women and the environment,  visit a Wildlife Sanctuary, take in stunning scenery and visit some of the local attractions and sights. The students will live in tents without electricity and be enveloped in traditional culture of the people, making friends and lending a hand wherever they can. "I know this trip will change me," says Hailly Allardice. "I am looking forward most of all to help people, and knowing that I have made a difference," she says. "Being able to come from a small town, and be a part of something so big is just amazing. This is something we all will carry with us for the rest of our lives," says Kyra VonMatt.

The trip will cost the students over four thousand dollars, making fundraising their primary goal leading up to departure. They are looking to raise money to cover the cost of mandatory immunizations, Kenya Visas, air ambulance fees and other expenses as well as offsetting some of the costs of the trip. They have been seen out and about in the community, doing bottle drives, working at the Teck Health and Wellness Booth,  creating presentations to show people on what their trip is all about, seeking business sponsorship and selling custom made t-shirts to kick of their fundraising campaign. "For the girls, being involved in fundraising, the sponsorship program and creating and publicly presenting an overview of their trip has been a really great learning experience in itself," says Sherry Benko, an adult chaperone of the trip.

The girls will be out full force continuing to fundraise however they can. They welcome the public to purchase a keepsake t-shirt at anytime to aid with their efforts and are extend a big thank you to the community for the support they have received so far.

"We will head to a place and be part of a culture we know little about. We don't know what to expect , but we are really looking forward to helping others. It really is about a hand up, and not out," says Karlie Sundstrom.

For more information, to purchase a t-shirt or to make a donation please contact Sherry Benko at 250.425. 2136 or Grace VonMatt at 250.425.0663.

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