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Imagine a school very similar to ours. It sits in a rural community, five to ten miles from the city and is near a lake. The big difference between our school and this one is that this one is located in Kenya. The Mbaka Oromo Primary School, Lansing's partner school in Kenya, has 540 students, 80 HIV/AIDS orphans and 9 teachers, including the principal, who also teaches. The Kuoyo Secondary School is also involved within the partnership.

The partnership between the schools began last spring with a group of parents and students who were concerned with how the Lansing community could rally together and help some of the desperate situations in Africa. A fundraiser planned by the PALS (Partnership of African and Lansing Schools) and a support group of parents took place last June to rebuild the roof on the school and was a great success. A chicken barbecue was held, games were played, musical groups preformed, and over $5500 was raised. This money was hand delivered to the schools and a ground breaking ceremony took place on Friday, September 29. Dignitaries from all over Kenya attended at the ceremony as well as Government officials and Jim Nowak, the representative for Lansing from Reach the Children, the organization helping with this effort.

Cindy Van Es, one of the creators of this project, said that many people involved with this project are also optimistic that due to the ceremony and the initial aid given, the Government will also be willing to help fund the school.

Of the money raised, $1000 went to the secondary school that was used to buy new bricks for the building. Since the school requires that students pay fees to attend, the number of students in the school is small. Even so, the school has no science equipment and lacks necessities such as paper and pencils. Of the money raised at last June’s "Raise the Roof" event, $4500 of the money went to the primary school to rebuild the roof and to build another classroom: a necessity for the growing school.

Already, a PALS club has developed at the secondary school. Even though the funds were provided to buy the bricks for the secondary school, the group of parents involved in the club did all of the labor themselves.

Maybe even more important than the money raised for Mbaka Oromo Primary School is the community it has built between our schools. Jim Nowak toured Lansing last summer taking pictures of farms and the schools to show representatives and students in Kenya. In turn he is photographing places in Kenya and and will hopefully share these pictures and his stories with us in January. Cindy Van Es said, "Just the fact that an American community cares about them has had a profound impact on the students, teachers, and parents."

Christina Espey-Sundt is the News/Features Editor for  Lansings High School's newspaper, The Bobcat.
This article reprinted from The Bobcat with permission.

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