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PAA Made the News

A Better World completes largest student trip in Kenya; opens new classroom Apr 20, 2023 | 12:47 PM

Not only has the local non-profit A Better World (ABW) just completed their largest student trip, but the group was able to fundraise double their initial goal.

For Lacombe-based ABW founder Eric Rajah, this is his 11th student trip. While normally attracting 10-15 students, this year’s trip to Kenya, from March 23 – April 2, brought 20 Grade 10-12 students from Parkview Adventist Academy (PAA), affiliated with Burman University. Part of their Service Learning course, two parents, a teacher and the school Chaplain accompanied the students.

He says each student had to raise $4,000 for their travel expenses and $500 to sponsor the building of a school classroom, for a total of $10,000, allowing the students to be invested in making a difference. However, through volunteer and fundraising efforts asking family and friends, the students raised $20,000.

“It’s nice to get the younger generation tuned in to the future. If nothing, they’ll understand and appreciate what they have here in Canada. Many of them don’t know how two-thirds of the people live in a difficult situation, at least in situations where we are so fortunate,” he said.

Rajah says apart from sightseeing and animal-watching, the PAA students visited eight ABW-sponsored classrooms in rural villages, where they were welcomed by locals with dancing, singing and a friendly soccer game. “The kids there had a lot of questions about Canada. Many of them don’t even have TVs, we’re talking rural village places, so we are the world to them,” he said about the Kenyan children.

For their newly built sponsored classroom at the Mau Summit Primary School, a ribbon cutting and plaque ceremony was held while the PAA students delivered some classes to local students in the subject of their choice from math to music to social studies.

Rajah says the trip gives students the opportunity of exposure, as he always wanted when he was younger, in schools and even in ABW-sponsored clinics.

“The outcome that we are looking for in doing this is that they will actually become better citizens for our own country. They’ll have a global perspective, they’ll be able to apply their learning in a practical way. Some of them will shape their future career based on the needs of the world,” he said.

The founder said Kenya is a great place for students as it is safe, the students speak English, and it is easy to travel to. He added that the schools are built by local workers to help improve the economy by providing jobs.

“Writing a cheque, if that was the solution to the problems of the world, the problems would be solved. It’s the people, commitment and dedication to touch other people’s lives, [that] is really what the turning point is,” he said.

The students were encouraged to write a journal of their trip. Jemma from Grade 12 said she felt privileged to experience the project in Kenya, particularly during their visit to an orphanage for children with disabilities.

“Visiting the schools, teaching, and seeing the joy and pure happiness on all the children’s faces made me realize how blessed I am and that there is much to be grateful for. I realized that I am so unaware of the ways that I have everything and am still unhappy, yet these kids have so little but are filled with so much joy and spirit and have big hearts,” she wrote. “Investing in young people and get them on the ground outside of our borders gives them a perspective on life; it’s important,” said Rajah.

ABW has a goal of having 75,000 students registered in their classroom by 2030. Rajah says they are currently at 55,534.

For more information on the student trip, read their online blog.

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