Annual Africa Outreach Walkathon Raises Over $650 For Aid Efforts and Nursery School in Africa

Cold gray skies and the threat of rain did not prevent students from raising over $660 during Africa Outreach’s second-annual Walkathon this past Sunday. Students signed up for the walk in Commons, then found sponsors to donate a certain amount of money to Africa Outreach for each completed lap of the Sanctuary. Chase Ebert ’09 and Kimberly Kuoch ’09 raised the most money with $72 each and over 20 students participated in the walkathon. All of the profits from the walkathon will go towards aid efforts in Africa, namely to the Kisuru Nursery School in Kenya. “This was the first time that I had ever done anything like this, [and] I felt good helping people less fortunate than me,” said club member Miguel J. Tavarez ’08. Students found that collecting money was not always easy. “Not everyone understood what I was raising money for. I only raised like twenty dollars, but it felt good to do my part,” said Traverez. Many participants expressed difficulties in getting people to sponsor them. The philanthropic nature of their cause, however, compelled these students to persist in their efforts. President Haruka Maruyama ’06 founded Africa Outreach last year to promote awareness and raise money for crises in Africa such as AIDS. Maruyama lived in Africa for eight years and spent four years working at the Kisuru nursery school in Nairobi, Kenya. The nursery school relies solely on donations from outside groups, like Africa Outreach, to stay open. When Maruyama arrived at Phillips Academy as a new Lower in 2003, she knew she had to stay connected with the Kisuru Nursery School in Kenya. “I just loved being in Africa,” Maruyama said, “and I wanted to have a chance to educate people here about what is going on [in Africa].” In addition to the Walkathon, the club also organizes the Adopt-A-Cot program. This program allows anyone to adopt a cot in an orphanage for an annual fee. The money for the cot supports the needs of the orphan for a year “The club is one half fundraising, one half educational,” said Maruyama. The educational component of the club consists of using speakers and activities to educate students on serious problems in African countries. The club has sponsored a variety of workshops, most notably a forum on the genocide in Sudan, as well as a lunch with Dr. Paul Farmer, who also came to campus through the efforts of the Phillips Academy Partnership for AIDS Awareness (PAPAA) to talk about the AIDS situation. Many of Africa Outreach’s club members have had personal experiences that relate to African calamities. One such member, Lauren Kelleher ’07, visited South Africa this past summer, witnessing first-hand the devastation that the African people face each day. “I want to bring in someone from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee [to speak] next,” said Kelleher. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee was commissioned to make decisions on the amnesty of people who committed crimes in South Africa before 1994. “[The Truth and Reconciliation Committee] has to make a lot of tough decisions. You can see the man who killed your child go free, but that’s the kind of decisions that they have to make,” said Kelleher.