Sixth grader from North Platte helps students in Kenya | Nebraska News
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — A TeamMates mentoring relationship inspired sixth-grade McDaid student Ben Hankla to help students in Kenya.
Local optometrist Dr. Kim Baxter mentored Ben for three years. From this relationship, a project in Kenya has been completed and a second is in progress.
Baxter made several trips to Kenya for eye clinics and in the process met Alice Atemo, who founded three faith-based schools there. There are 1,000 students in these schools and boarding schools, nearly half of whom are orphans, Baxter said.
A school and boarding house in Kenya burned down in April, and Ben and his classmates are hoping to raise money to replace textbooks and school supplies.
“Here in America we’ve done pretty well, but in Africa they don’t have a lot of resources and (students in Kenya) need help,” Ben told the North Platte Telegraph. “That’s why Dr. Baxter goes there for eye care. I’m just happy to help them.
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Two years ago, classmates including Jack Condon, Oliwia Wiezorek, Gianna Pieper and Justin Davies raised nearly $2,000 to buy a new water pump for a school. The students set a higher goal for the current project.
“We’re trying to raise $3,000,” Ben said.
He was assigned to give a presentation at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and spoke at all four masses this past weekend.
“I talked about what we did two years ago and how we exceeded our goal,” Ben said. “I talked about how Dr. Baxter and I are members of TeamMates and how the school burned down and how much money we needed to raise.”
Baxter said Ben did a great job giving his presentation and the church responded in a big way.
“I think we all love to see young people doing good things in our world.” Baxter said “and have a passion for helping people and living their Christian faith”.
Baxter will make its annual mission trip to an eye clinic in February in Shikunga, a village in western Kenya.
A larger project underway is a hospital being built in Kakamega County. The building will be named Craig Memorial Rotary Clinic, in honor of Baxter’s son who died six years ago.
The students gave presentations at the three Catholic parishes in the area, as well as at Catholic schools in North Platte. They are also asking for help from all other area churches, civic organizations and the community as a whole.
To help with this effort, drop off or send your donation by Monday to McDaid Elementary or St. Patrick’s High School. If you are writing a check, make it payable to “North Platte Rotary Club” and write “Kenya School project” in the line item.
For further copyright information, see the distributor of this article, The North Platte Telegraph.