Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fairmont Senior High School Students Join Nuru International’s Efforts To Fight Extreme Poverty in Kuria, Kenya

Back in February, I had the privilege to witness a first in the short history of Nuru International. I visited a high school in north central West Virginia that had organized an entire week of events dedicated to raising awareness about Nuru’s work as well as raising funds to further our efforts on the ground in Kuria, Kenya. To my knowledge this is the first time a school anywhere in the country has dedicated an entire week to ‘being Nuru’ and, as a West Virginian, it makes me extremely proud to know that this school is in my home state of West Virginia.

Over the course of the week, students organized a variety of activities to raise funds and to ‘be light’ on their campus. (Nuru is a kiswahili word that means light and has a connotation of hope.) The week started with me visiting the school for an all school assembly to talk to students about the issue of etreme poverty, what Nuru does, Nuru's West Virginia roots, and how young people just like them are getting in the fight to end extreme poverty together with Nuru.  That same day, students and faculty were encouraged to wear their “We Bears Do Care” Nuru Club T-shirts, and wrote statistics on clothes pins and pinned  these to one another to raise awareness around the school about global extreme poverty.  The week progressed with students being able to buy glow in the dark bracelets, raise funds to participate in a ‘bucket walk’ , and culminated last Saturday with a 5K race on the campus of Fairmont State University.

To me, one of the most amazing aspects of the week was the fact that it was largely coordinated through the efforts of one teacher and a handful of students. Mrs. Adrin Fisher, an English teacher (and also a past graduate of Fairmont Senior High School and West Virginia University), helped her students form a club, get permission for the events of the week, and mentored them along the way. As a result of their efforts, more and more students and teachers began getting involved with the events of the week, and together they had a massive impact.

Over the course of the week, over 200 people joined Nuru International’s fan page on Facebook, and these students together raised over $2700 to support Nuru’s work on the ground in Kuria Kenya. I am so proud of these young people. As Mrs. Fisher noted, too often, young people from small town America are discouraged from believing they can do something really significant to make a difference in this world.  The fact that Nuru was started by Jake Harriman, a person from rural Appalachia (Preston County, West Virginia), really resonated with the students and served as an example that they also could step up and make a significant impact on our world.

I hope other schools around this state, country, and world, will follow the example of these students, and organize their own unique events and fundraisers to inspire even more people to join us in this fight so that one day, we can say that together we were the generation who ended extreme poverty, and helped people everywhere have choices and the opportunity to determine their future.

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