Last Christmas a Boissevain School classroom took on a project. Mrs. Connie Krowchuk’s class chose to buy an entire stable for a needy family through World Vision.
“I had been considering this idea for a couple of years,” Krowchuk said. “When I received a letter from World Vision explaining the project I decided it was a good organization to support. The money goes directly into the communities where it is needed. They sent a great information package and teaching guide as well as a DVD to show the students.” She presented the idea to the class and the project took off from there.
“I showed the catalogue to the students and they were so excited,” said Krowchuk. “They just ‘poured’ over it, trying to decide which project to support. The students were amazed at how little money it took to supply a school or clothe a family.” In the end, the students set their sights high and chose to buy an entire stable at a cost of $1,200. “I thought that was more than we could do,” Krowchuk said, “but it was a great goal to work towards.”
Filling a stable through the World Vision project helps an entire community rise above poverty. It is better than just sending money because it is a gift that continues to give. The people can take pride in providing for their families and community. Often a stable gift will consist of a goat for milk production, a sheep or cow, egg-producing chickens or ducks, piglets and a donkey.
The students began by figuring out how much was spent on classroom gift exchanges, teacher and assistant gifts as well as the teacher’s gifts to students. They were astounded to realize that approximately $300 to $400 was spent on these items in their classroom alone. Everyone agreed they could live without these gifts and could use the money for this project instead. Krowchuk let the students brainstorm for fundraising ideas, guiding them towards the ideas that were attainable and not too overwhelming to achieve. She planned lessons around the project, helping the students see the reality of life in a Third World country. One of the first lessons the students learned was the process of fundraising. “It wasn’t just something they could jump in and do,” said Krowchuk. “They had to learn the proper procedures for implementing their plan.” The class had to go through the stages of organization and planning as well as the work of promotion. They had to approach the principal and other staff members for permission to conduct the fundraising projects. Letters were sent home, explaining the project and requesting that the classroom gift exchange money be sent as a donation instead.
The next fundraising effort was a bake sale. Students were asked to supply baking to sell at a parent/teacher conference evening as well as at school the following day. By first recess of the second day, all of the goodies were sold out!
One of the most significant ideas was the African water carry. The students collected pledges from sponsors and then were required to carry a four-litre water jug around the school for an entire day. In phys. ed. class they had to play dodge ball and do exercises while carrying the jugs. Krowchuk expanded the lesson to discuss water consumption and how much we as Canadians use or overuse our water supply. “I think it really opened their eyes,” she said “When they saw how much water was used for everyday activities, they realized how much we take it for granted.” The students gained a distinct understanding of how much water an African family requires for basic needs such as drinking and cooking. Their water doesn’t come out of a tap the way ours does!
Using leftover supplies from a gingerbread house project, the students creatively constructed four extra houses that were raffl ed off at the school Christmas concert. The class surpassed the $1,200 goal, leaving excess money to purchase more things from the catalogue.
“It is nice to help families,” said students, Stefanie Smith and Sydney Kleebaum.
Fellow classmates agreed. “Raising money for World Vision is a good cause because you are helping families that are less fortunate than us,” said Joel Usick.
“Families that receive this stable will be happy and able to live and provide for their family and community,” added Rebecca Unrau.
“On the video the families were really poor, but were really happy when they received the gifts,” explained Jason Janssens.
What is the most important lesson the students have learned?
“Compassion,” says Krowchuk. “I think the students have learned to be sensitive to other’s needs, that people aren’t as lucky as we are.”
Why not look into starting a group project in your area?
– Tanya Unrau writes from Boissevain, Manitoba