Sunshine Hills students raise $25,000 to build a school in Sudan

  - Photo submitted
— image credit: Photo submitted

They may be half a world apart, but students at Sunshine Hills Elementary School in North Delta are happy to be helping children in Kosti, Sudan, get a proper education.

“Education is very important and it opens doors for so many things," said Hannah Milic, a grade seven student at Sunshine Hills Elementary and a member of the school’s social responsibility club known as the We Team. "That’s why education is one of our priorities and our school has been so passionate about raising money to build a school for the kids who need it in Kosti.”

Kosti is a community located along the White Nile River in the southeast portion of Sudan.

The city is still recovering from the civil war between North and South Sudan that ended in 2005 and ultimately split the country into two sovereign states in 2011.

Due to the war, hundreds of thousands of people were internally displaced.

In Kosti, makeshift communities were established to support these people that now call Kosti home; this included building lackluster schools that do not meet the needs of students.

The schools are unable to cope with the volume of students, with classes having up to 140 children in them. Some schools have no roofs or the walls have collapsed. In many classes there are no seats and the children sit on the sandy floor, and in other cases the classes are forced to be held outside under the trees.

This is where the students at Sunshine Hills Elementary are stepping-up to help.

This year the school committed to raising $20,000 to help build a brand new school for students in Kosti.

“It’s good to know that you are helping children get an education. Everyone in our school has been really enthusiastic about this project,” said Briana Johnson, a Grade 7 student and member of the We Team.

The We Team, a group of roughly 40 students who are committed to helping other children in need, spearheaded the fundraising project. The students organized numerous events throughout the year to raise money, such as a walk-a-thon, a Christmas gift fair and bake sales.

The students also did informational campaigns to educate all of the other students in the school about the project.

“It’s such a great leadership opportunity for these kids,” said Joan Stephens, the teacher sponsor of the Sunshine Hills We Team.

The We Team surpassed their $20,000 fundraising goal, raising $25,000. The money is going to the Canadian charity A Better World, which will facilitate building the school.

A Better World was able to find a grant from a private organization to match the $25,000 raised by Sunshine Hills. In addition to this extra funding, A Better World is providing $35,000 towards the project, for a total project cost of $85,000.

The We Team at Sunshine Hills has been supporting A Better World for the past five years. The school has already provided support to build a medical clinic, a school for orphaned children and water wells. Over the last half-decade, they have raised roughly $115,000 for A Better World.

“Every Canadian school that I go visit, I speak about your school,” said Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World, while speaking to the Sunshine Hills We Team during a recent cheque presentation of the $25,000. “Your school always goes above and beyond!”

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