What matters

Basket party assists with reaching the Coins to Change fundraising goal

By Casey Samyn
Campus Life Editor

Imagine growing up orphaned, without a safe place to sleep at night and any form of schooling an impossible dream. In rural Uganda, this is often the type of lifestyle many children are forced to live. The Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project is trying to change that, with the help of Coins to Change members at Schoolcraft.

Coins to Change sponsors several events throughout the 2014-15 academic year, like Navratri this past October and the upcoming Bollywood event in March. These events have helped fundraise towards building a school in Uganda.

“Our goal is to raise $25,000 to help Jackson Kaguri build a school in Nyaka,” said Anna Maheshwari, Chair of the English Department at Schoolcraft. “We’ve raised close to $24,000 after today.”

Twesigye “Jackson” Kaguri’s brother and sister died during the Uganda HIV and AIDS outbreak. Kaguri, a native Ugandan was left to care for his deceased siblings children. Kaguri wanted to change the type of life that the orphans were forced to live. With $5,000 as down payment, Kaguri built the first school in his native village of Nyakagyezi.

The most recent basket party, held on Feb. 4 in the Wilson Room of the VisTaTech Center, was the second largest held at Schoolcraft.

“Everything is made by the grandmothers of the children who are going to school. They’re all the grandmothers of the AIDS orphans. They’re women who have lost their children to AIDS and so they’re raising their children’s children and other children in the village that don’t have anybody to take care of them,” said Sheryl Switaj, Adjunct Faculty in the Sociology Department.

Along with fundraising towards building a school, money raised goes to building houses for the grandmothers and children. Many of the families live in set ups that are not safe for people to live in. Stable housing boosts morale and allows the children to sleep well and be secure each night.

“I’m proud to go to this school that supports this wonderful project and is willing to put in time to be able to help these children,” said Alyssa Keeling, a student volunteer at the event.

“You could become pen pals with one of the students there [Uganda], you can communicate with a child, you can sponsor a child, it doesn’t take a whole lot of money to support a child there for education. People over there make less than $2 a day so think about how much you can do with two dollars,” said Maheshwari.

On April 14, Jackson Kaguri will be at Schoolcraft to accept the money at 10 a.m. in the presentation room of the VisTaTech.

“We’re so proud that the Schoolcraft college community, especially the students, came together. Our goal is to not only help build a school but also for these students to go out and make a difference in their own communities in some way, shape or form,” said Maheshwari.

Those who are interested in participating can visit http://www.nyakaschool.org for more information.

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