Students and staff at North Grenville District High School (NGHS) are getting ready for a benefit concert to raise money for a school in Kenya. The NGDHS-run organization called Sarah’s Hope started in 2005, when a former student was going to Kenya as part of her nursing degree at the University of Ottawa. Sarah Bolton got in touch with her former science teacher, Phil Stover, to get his thoughts on the trip and, when Phil told his class, they came up with the idea of raising money to send educational items over to Kenya with Sarah. “They sent items like workbooks, pencils, erasers, and hacky sacks,” says Meredith Island, a teacher at NGDHS and organizer of the benefit concert.
For six years, students at NGDHS raised money to send school supplies to a nursery school in Kenya. In 2011, Sarah’s Hope decided to switch gears and get involved with a more established organization, to be more accountable and to make sure funds raised were going directly to those they were trying to help. They got in touch with an organization in Ireland, called Moving Mountains of Trust, who had a new project: to rebuilt Gatwe Primary School in Embu, Kenya, which had fallen into disrepair.
Every year, NGDHS students and staff have worked hard to raise money to rebuild the school and have financed seven out of the eleven classrooms built through fundraising. “Phil went to Kenya in September to help build the last classroom,” Meredith says.
While Phil was over there, he noticed a couple of other projects that needed to be financed: a new toilet block to provide more sanitary facilities to the students, and a new kitchen, which is currently just a shack that houses a wood fire.
Through fundraising and donations, Sarah’s Hope has raised enough money to rebuild the toilet block. The school’s benefit concert will be raising money for the kitchen, the final project they are undertaking at Gatwe Primary School.
This is the twelfth annual benefit concert for Sarah’s Hope at NGDHS. There will also be a bake sale and displays to educate the public about Moving Mountains of Trust, Sarah’s Hope, and where the proceeds of the concert are going. “We want people to have a sense of where their money is going, and who they are helping,” Meredith says.
The benefit concert will be on Thrusday, May 31, at 7 pm. Doors to the NGDHS cafeteria will open at 6:30 pm, and tickets are $10 each, or $25 for a family of four. It is organized by the music club, run by teacher, Stephen Henderson, and features both teacher and student performers. Meredith says they have a lot of talent at NGDHS, with many of their performers being regulars in the Kemptville Youth Musical Theatre productions. “Our musicians are amazing,” she says. “We are hoping for a big audience this year.”