York students support school in Kenya

The Faculty of Education Students Association (FESA) at York University is reaching out to students halfway around the world through a fundraising campaign to send 75 backpacks filled with books and school supplies to students at the Wikondiak Secondary School in Kenya. The campaign, which is now in full swing, began as an idea at a FESA council meeting last November.

“Our incentive to help came from the Honourable Phoebe Asiyo who received an honourary doctorate at convocation last year,” said Dimitra Lazarou, one of the principal organizers of the campaign and co-social director for FESA. “The Wikondiak School, which has a large population of young women orphaned by AIDS, is supported by Dr. Asiyo and her family.” (See the June 23 issue of YFile for more on Asiyo.)

The campaign kicked off with a Krispy Kreme fundraiser on January 23, which, along with individual donations, raised around $500 for the project.

Left: Sherri Rotstein (left) and Dimitra Lazarou prepare the backpacks for shipment to the Wikondiak Secondary School in Kenya

As well, education students collected boxes of specific items including books, rulers, pens, paper and t-shirts from a variety of local businesses and donors. The funds raised go toward purchasing additional items for the backpacks such as solar calculators. Any leftover funds will go towards sponsoring Wikondiak students who require financial support for tuition or room and board at the school.

“Our goal is to send a backpack filled with books and school supplies for each of the 75 students at the school,” said Sherri Rotstein, co-social director for FESA. “So far the response from education students, faculty and staff has been impressive and we’re extremely happy about that.”

Right: Kenyan students in the classroom

All of the items collected will be sent to Kenya in June courtesy of York University President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, who has volunteered to arrange and fund the shipping of the items.

“FESA has done a wonderful job coordinating what we hope will be phase one of a long-term relationship between our Faculty and the Wikondiak school. We have already started exploring other ways that we can work together next year, focusing on a science education initiative and perhaps a student internship or exchange,” said Tove Fynbo, coordinator of International Education for the Faculty of Education.

If you wish to contribute or make a donation to the project, please contact FESA at ext. 88779. The backpacks will be ready to go at the end of May.

This article was submitted to YFile by Anderson Coward, communications coordinator for the Faculty of Education.