Although they’ve never met them, South Williamsport Area High School students are hoping to help Gambian students by donating money to help their school purchase solar panels.
South Williamsport students in the Peace Corps Club have been selling paper light bulbs for 50 cents a piece at lunch, in the hopes of raising enough money to help a Gambian school for girls to purchase solar panels. Their goal is to raise $900.
The panels are needed in order to give the students electricity in the school.
The project is important for the girls of Gambia because most never finish the seventh grade. Usually the girls of the family are sent out to work and never receive an education, adviser Janet Hurwitz explained.
Along with the light bulb sale, students also collected digital cameras in order to send to Gambia.
“The girls in Gambia, they take photos at different events and they can sell them for income,” said Justin Silverstein, a sophomore club member.
To help make the project real for the students, Yassin Sarr, a Gambian woman who did receive an education, visited the club. Club members said to hear Sarr’s stories made an impact on them.
“It gave us a better perspective,” said club president Kate Mitchell. “We would always hear about it in emails and photos but to hear it was great.”
The group didn’t stop there though, they took it one step further. Students stayed after school without an electronic devices or lights for two hours.
Silverstein said it was all about learning not to take things they use on a daily basis for granted. Logan Wein, a sophomore club member, agreed saying: “We got to experience pretty much what they go through each day.”
The students are taking away a new perspective on being global students.
“More than anything knowing there’s so much more out there,” Mitchell said on what she learned from the project. “I need to study for a chemistry test but what if I didn’t have electricity to study for a chem test.”
And learning what others go through for education is giving them a new appreciation of school.
“I think just getting an education is amazing,” Wein said, “because so many other countries can’t.”
And this is not the only help the group is giving to the Gambian school as they also have sent it first aid kits.
The fact that they’ve seen the help they’re giving others, makes the students feel good.
“We know we’re making a difference but when you see the pictures of people holding the stuff, that’s what makes me keep doing it,” Mitchell said.
And the students believe their helping spirit is rubbing off on classmates.
“It opens up their thinking,” Silverstein said. “They’re not just thinking about themselves.”