Notre Dame students help give Kenyan children the gift of education

29/11/2011

Notre Dame News Story
Travelling to Kenya: The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Education students Natalie Caparrotta, Matthew Taylor and Chloe Pearce.
 

For many university students, end-of-semester break is a time to wind down. Not so for 21 students from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Education, who will be gearing up to begin a charity project in Kenya as the ink dries on their final exams.

The students, together with three Notre Dame staff members, will be travelling to an Internationally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Nakuru, north of Nairobi. There, they will present a $16,000 cheque to the Aberdare Ranges Primary School to fund the construction of a new classroom and will spend three weeks working as volunteers at the school and an adjoining orphanage.

Executive Director of So They Can, and founder of the Aberdare Ranges Primary School, Cassandra Treadwell said Notre Dame is making a world of difference to the Kenyan community.

"I hope the students realise the importance of the role they are undertaking as educators because teachers play a pivotal role in enabling children to aspire and achieve," Ms Treadwell said.

The trip was organised by School of Education Lecturers, Tim Perkins, Sean Kearney and Julie Maakrun, who will be part of the Notre Dame group travelling to Kenya. Mr Perkins said he had been inspired by Ms Treadwell’s humanitarian projects in the past and wanted to give students the opportunity to hear her story.

"There is a very strong social justice and global education slant to one of the subjects I teach to our undergraduate Primary Education students, called Human Society and its Environment," Mr Perkins said.

"It’s all about recognising who and where we are in the world and the role we as teachers can play in broadening the worldview of our students and providing opportunities for them to involve themselves in authentic project.

For the students embarking on the trip, their journey to Kenya began in the classroom, when Mr Perkins invited Cassandra Treadwell to present a guest lecture on Aberdare Ranges Primary School.

"As soon as I heard Cassandra speak, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in," student Chloe Pearce said.

"By the time she finished, I had already decided to go to Kenya and I’ve never wavered from that. I know it’s going to be a life-changing experience."

Students and staff all paid their own way for the trip and coordinated a number of fundraising events for the donation to the primary school, including an end of semester party.

"Everything for our end of semester party was donated, including venues, caterers, graphic designers and DJs," final year Education student Natalie Caparrotta said.

"When they found out about our cause, people were very generous in donating their time and talents," she said.

As well as much-needed funds, the Notre Dame community donated material and clothes, which will be given to the people living in the IDP camps.

Final year Bachelor of Education student Matthew Taylor said he got involved in the project because he wanted to publicise the importance of providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children.

"With this project, I hope to raise awareness about schools such as Aberdare Ranges Primary School and highlight the importance of education as a way out of poverty," Mr Taylor said.

For information about how you can support the children at Aberdare Ranges Primary School, visit http://www.sotheycan.org/sponsor/


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