Ponoka Secondary students take part in the annual Famine for a Better World

Written by Mark Weber, Ponoka News

Thirty-five Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) students came together to raise funds for a Kenya school project via the Famine for A Better World event that took place March 1-2.

The students were from Grades 9 through 12, with each having the goal of pledging $100 to donate to the Lacombe-based A Better World Canada, which does extensive humanitarian work in many countries, said Julie Lapointe, a science teacher at the school.

Ultimately, the students raised $3,430 for desks and a water catchment system for Mau Summit Primary School for Early Education in Kenya.

The youth fasted for 30 hours as well.

Eric Rajah, founder of A Better World Canada, spoke to the students about their impact and presented them with a plaque and photographs of the project that was funded by the 2023 Famine for A Better World at PSC.

“This is my ninth year teaching at the school, and I started to run a humanitarian club here a while back. We had done different Jail and Bail-type fundraisers before, and the school also always did a 30-hour famine with the donations going to organizations like World Vision,” she explained.

Lapointe has been involved with A Better World Canada since she was in Grade 10, so it’s a charity that holds a special place in her heart — she’s also travelled with the organization to Kenya twice.

“We call our event Famine for A Better World, and this year we decided to raise money for this project with A Better World.

“The project that we raised money for is for an early childhood development classroom, primarily to be able to help provide them with desks,” she said, adding that funds supported the aforementioned water catchment system as well.

These are installed on the roofs of the buildings.

As to the fasting, it kicked off on Friday morning and wrapped up on Saturday around noon.

“The students also stayed overnight at the school, and they broke their fast on Saturday morning at about 11:45 a.m.”

As part of his talk, Rajah showed students photos of the project they supported last year, and photos of the current project as well.

“In the past, during the fasting period, I have arranged projects for the students that are kind of famine-themed. But sometimes they’ll say they would also like to play board games or shoot hoops in the gym.

“So we leave the school pretty open to the students.”

For Lapointe, the whole event brings plenty of personal fulfillment.

“It’s also because of my involvement (with A Better World) since I was a teenager, which includes the privilege of travelling to Kenya on two different occasions. It’s something that I have a deep-rooted passion for,” she said.

“Also, the amount of impact that one desk provides for students in Kenya is just huge. I also like to enlighten our students to look at the different perspectives of students who have dirt-floor classrooms and things like that.

“So by providing a desk, that really, for us doesn’t cost too much money, it can again provide a huge impact there. And in terms of being a teacher in North America, I just see such value in helping to provide our students with some of that perspective, too.

“By doing our famine event, it puts them in a very real circumstance that some people (in Kenya) are enduring daily.

“I like being able to share that passion with our students — it’s also something that is beyond the regular courses that I teach, where I can express and share that passion, and hopefully be able to spark an interest in the students to help make a difference and to help bring a positive impact or change in the world.”

Rajah’s talk also helps bring it all into sharper focus as well, she said.

“It shows that it’s all purposeful, powerful, and impactful.”

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