180 Days of Learning: Day 99: Joan Stephens (Sunshine Hills Elementary)

Learning to be Global Citizens …

The Sunshine Hills We Team is a group of Grade 7 students who are passionate about righting injustices and making a positive difference in the lives of the many less fortunate children in our world. Despite their young age, our We Team students have developed a strong sense of global social responsibility. Their compassion, determination, and commitment to our causes each year never cease to amaze us. Through their leadership, Sunshine Hills Elementary has succeeded in raising a total of $70,000 over the past three school years to help free African children from poverty and exploitation.

After supporting an adopted village in Sierra Leone for two years, we decided last year to turn our eyes and our hearts towards the children of another war-torn country in Africa, Sudan. During Sudan’s second civil war, millions of Sudanese were displaced from their homes in South Sudan. Many of these refugees, including children, now live in camps for permanently displaced persons. Our goal was to build a children’s medical clinic to provide desperately needed health care for these Sudanese people who are living permanently in refugee camps in the area of Kosti. These forgotten people have no hope of ever returning to their homes, so we decided to bring help to them. We needed $20,000 to build the two-room clinic.

To begin our campaign, our We Team students hosted our annual Sunshine Hills WE Day to inspire our school population to think “we” and to move from entitlement to compassion. It was an urgent call to action. Then we held our third annual Walk-a-thon on Friday, March 2, 2012. We challenged all primary students to walk 3 kilometers, which is the distance that many young children in Africa have to walk to get safe water. We challenged all intermediate students to walk 6 kilometers, the distance that students in Sudan have to walk to reach a rough, outdoor school. Our students rose to the challenge and brought in $19,000 in pledges! Together with the money we had raised earlier in the school year through inspirational t-shirt and hoodie sales, bake sales, and a Christmas Gift Fair, we had a total of $25,000. In July, 2012, “A Better World” was able to begin construction on the desperately needed medical clinic.

Eric Rajah from “A Better World” visited our clinic in Goz Elsalam, Sudan on February 11, 2013 and sent us these latest photos of the completed clinic. Thanks to the passion of our We Team students and the tremendous generosity of the Sunshine Hills community, some 14,000 refugees in the Kosti area are now able to access medical care. The day that Eric visited was “Mother-Child Day” for infant immunizations and check-ups. We can only imagine the far-reaching impact our clinic will have on the lives of these underprivileged children in Sudan.