Eight students and their families, along with two additional families from the local community, spent the better part of a year raising funds to build a classroom in Karatu, Tanzania. In June 2019, the group travelled to visit the Ganako Primary School in Ayalabe Village.
Maddie Cramer ’22, Camille Farrell ’22, James Farrell ’24, Aiden Gutierrez ’22, Connor Gutierrez ’26, Timothy LaBrucherie ’25, Sancia Milton ’22 and Emma Mortimer ’26 together raised $18,000 to build the new classroom at the kindergarten-seventh grade school that has 510 students, 11 teachers and now, eight classrooms.
Construction began in January 2019; during their June visit, the group spent a day with students, teachers, and members of the community. The travelers brought suitcases packed with toys, books and school supplies as well as soccer balls, volleyballs and other athletic equipment.
Sancia reflected on the experience, saying, “We were all excited by the prospect of building a school house on the other side of the world; Who wouldn’t jump at that unique kind of service? That said, all the exhilaration from fundraising and planning was nothing compared to standing by a cornfield ten time zones from home, seeing the simple building that money went to help, and passing a volleyball with those kids. Service often gets lost behind money and principles, but being in the middle of Africa to share what we have in person and overcoming the uncomfortable to make those connections, that is changing lives. That is the most impact I’ve felt in service - knowing that we crossed an ocean and helped people, but we also crossed an ocean and made new friends.”
Cami added, “Going to the Ganako Primary School was such a great experience. As we arrived, they all waved and ran up to us to give us hugs. I was amazed by how much they loved the simple things that we often take for granted. Since they were on vacation when we came to visit them, I was so grateful that almost all the students, the teachers, and even the principal came to greet us. The principal gave us a tour around the school and when he showed us the classroom that we had raised money to build, it was so fulfilling. The students sang my mom “Happy Birthday” and they sang some of their songs that they had learned at school. Moreover, we got to socialize after our tour and I met the sweetest girls. I truly enjoyed teaching them a few games and playing soccer and volleyball with them. One girl who hung out with me the entirety of our time at the school even gave me her mother’s email so we could stay in contact. This experience made me so grateful for our amazing education and facilities here at Bishop's - things that we may call commodities turned into gifts that were genuinely valued and even considered luxury goods by the schoolchildren we met, including school supplies and sports equipment. I was humbled to see their school kitchen was a fireplace with some pots and pans. Even though the students didn't have much and most of them had uniforms that didn't fit properly or broken shoes, they all maintained a smile on their face and the best attitude. Overall, I feel so lucky to get to meet these kids and I hope that the classroom that we built will leave an imprint on their lives.”