Following a full year of fundraising, and with generous help from the local community, students at The Country School recently announced that they had raised enough money to underwrite the creation of a well to provide clean drinking water in Kaberamaido, Uganda.
The successful conclusion of the fundraising effort, a partnership with the Madison nonprofit Call To Care Uganda, means construction can begin this summer. The well will be based at the Odongai Primary School and will provide clean water for as many as 1,500 people, including students at the school and others who live near it. The TCS well will mark the 28th well Call To Care Uganda has dug since its founding in 2007.
The Country School’s well effort began last fall after Joseph Coyne, an 8th Grader and member of the Student Leadership Committee, learned about the work of Call To Care Uganda (www.calltocareuganda.org). In addition to the obvious health benefits, Joseph discovered that a well would mean that children – primarily girls – could remain in school, rather than having to spend several hours each day walking miles back and forth to deliver potable water to their families.
Knowing that The Country School has a strong service learning component, Joseph suggested that his school embark on a well project with Call To Care Uganda, both as a way for Country School students to “serve their communities and the larger world,” as the school mission statement calls upon them to do, and so students could learn about children in other parts of the world.
The full cost of the well is $8,500, and so it was an ambitious undertaking for students at a PreSchool-8th Grade school, but Joseph and his Service Committee colleagues were confident it could be done. Starting in September, they held a series of fundraisers, from a school wide-coin collection to sales of Ugandan jewelry and dress down day fundraisers. This spring, they organized a 5K run on campus, attracting scores of local runners and inspiring several local businesses to serve as sponsors.
By the end of the school year, they had raised $5,353. With a little over $3,000 still to go, they were considering their options when they were invited by Coastal Connecticut magazine to be the featured nonprofit at the first Grassy Strip Concert of the summer, a performance by Christine Ohlman at the Madison Beach Hotel. During the concert, students sold jewelry and collected donations, and Joseph delivered a speech as part of a VIP reception.
The evening raised close to $1,300, but students still had a gap to close. Shortly after the concert, they heard from Jordan Rizza, publisher of Coastal Connecticut, who told them the magazine would cover the balance so they can officially proclaim, “Well done!” Construction of the well is expected to begin this month.
The Country School is extremely grateful to Coastal Connecticut, to sponsors of the 5K run (Zane’s Cycles; Dr. Laura Miller, DDS; Bershtein, Volpe, and McKeon P.C.; Group Insurance Associates; Woodbridge Running Company; and Barndoor Lighting Outfitters), to the countless individuals who made donations, and to our partners in this initiative, Call To Care Uganda, and its founder, Martha Hoffman, who visited The Country School repeatedly throughout the year to share news from and information about her program, students at Odongai, and Uganda.
Hoffman also helped Country School students initiate a pen pal program with Odongai students, and last fall, Country School students held a shoe drive, collecting 600 pairs of new and gently used shoes to send to their partner school. Recently, Hoffman forwarded photographs of Odongai students wearing their new shoes. The next photo Country School students hope to see their pen pals drinking clean water from their new well.
Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8. At The Country School, a rigorous academic program is accompanied by a commitment to hands-on learning, a dynamic STEAM curriculum (integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), a focus on the whole child, and service learning. The Country School prepares students to meet the future with confidence, encouraging them to reach their highest, both in school and in life. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.