Local volunteers help in Africa

(Published August 28, 2006 at 11:31 a.m.)

When Steve Werner, Matt Werner, Phill Klamm, Joanne Franzene, Shelly Holtz and Don Hoffman arrived at Hopewell Secondary school on the edge of a slum in Nekuru, Kenya, they were overcome by a thundering ovation that greeted them. Hundreds of high school students with their teachers, parents and community leaders welcomed the small group of "Americans" who were instrumental in setting the wheel of change in motion to change their school. WrestlingtheWorld, (www.wrestlingtheworld.org) a non-profit group with the mission of grappling with one world crisis after another had turned their attention to helping this unique, free school educate the children of poor African families.

WrestlingtheWorld was started by a group of young adults who wanted to reach out helping hands to those in need around the world. Since beginning in January 2005, the group has sent representatives to Sri Lanka to work with cleanup after the tsunami, sent aid to Katrina victims as well as relief work and supplies to tornado-ravaged areas in Missouri.

In early August, six volunteers traveled to Kenya to continue the work of helping others. While at Hopewell School, they were able to lay the cornerstone to begin building permanent stone block classrooms with the roofs being added in mid-August. The plan is to complete 20 classrooms to for the 750 students attending one of the few free secondary schools in Kenya where public education continues through eighth grade. In order to get an high school education, families must pay tuition that is often unaffordable to the millions of poor families.

During the two-week stay in Kenya, WTW volunteers toured the existing facility made up of tin sheds without windows or doors and established friendships that they will never forget. Earlier this year as WTW sent e-mails across the miles to the founder of the school, it was determined that the basic needs for food, water and latrines were necessary. The Walworth Fontana Rotary Club stepped forward to offer monetary help with a $5000 check and the resources to secure matching grants from Rotary International for additional assistance. Money was sent to Hopewell School to rent a 50-acre farm to grow beans and corn to be harvested to store for the students noon meals, which often is the students only meal of the day.

The group traveled with a driver in a van over 50 kilometers of rough and unpaved roads to view the farmland,which was a moment of fulfillment for Rotarian Steve Werner. "I knew then that the work we were doing is only a beginning."

After spending several days at Hopewell, the group toured another school, an orphanage and Werner was able to attend Rotary meetings in Nekuru and Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. In Nairobi, Steve had the honor of meeting a retired businessman whose focus is now on charitable causes. His personal goal is to promote a program called the GirlChild Network. The aim of this organization is to ensure that young girls are able to attend school every day of the month. Across Kenya, the lack of appropriate sanitary needs prevents poor adolescent girls from participating in school because for poverty-level families, there is not enough money to purchase sanitary supplies. Because the young girls cannot afford to purchase these necessary supplies, she stays home from school and misses three to four days each month. The aim of this campaign is to distribute sanitary supplies to 500,000 schoolgirls across Kenya and lobby the Kenyan government to include these supplies as part of the Free Primary Education up to age 14 offered in Kenyan schools. A mere $5 will provide a girl with one year's worth of sanitary needs. Wrestling the World is in the process of establishing a relationship with the Nairobi Rotary club to help fund this project. For more information please view this BBC article at the following Web site; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/world/africa/4816558.stm

Another project of vital importance is the Jaipur Foot Project, established by the Rotary club of Nairobi, South. Since its inception in 1990, this project has distributed over 8000 artificial limbs to the poor and needy victims of land mines, civil strife and accidents. The cost to provide one foot is $125. More information is available by e-mailing jaipurkenya@wananchi.com

WrestlingtheWorld has more ideas for improving the education of Hopewell students. Water treatment facilities need to continue to be improved. Many of the children have stained and corroded teeth from drinking water with unhealthy levels of minerals and chemicals. Improved toilets are in need---real toilets that flush along with sewage treatment facilities. In addition, $3000 will furnish Hopewell with a 25-station computer lab. WTW dreams of adding three more classrooms to the five that are now in the progressof being built---by the end of the year! That can be done for $4500 each.

Co-Founders of WrestlingtheWorld, Phill Klamm of Whitewater and Matt Werner of Milton, believe in the impact of what can be done with big dreams, willingness to work and the generosity of surrounding community and school organizations, and state and national networking. They have experienced how it takes just a spark to get a fire started and these two young men and their supporters are "on fire for Africa."

If you would like more information on the work of WrestlingtheWorld, the GirlChild Network or ongoing work at Hopewell School in Kenya, Africa you can log on at: www.wrestlingtheworld.org. If you wish to make a donation please write your check to Wrestling The World and mail it to: W8059 Bayview Drive, Whitewater, WI 53190. Please indicate in the memo Girl Child Network or Jaipur Foot or Hopewell HS. Wrestling the World is a 501(3)c organization; your contribution is tax deductible. All contributions got to the various programs.




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