Over the past two weeks, members of Lawrence’s KidsGive organization have visited student clubs on campus, music ensembles and classes urging groups to raise donations to sponsor a child in Sierra Leone who have lost one or both parents in the Ebola crisis. Every team is asked to raise $100 to provide schooling, food and care for their sponsored child for one year.
KidsGive is an LU-affiliated non-profit and an official on-campus student organization whose mission is to provide children in Sierra Leone the chance to learn and become leaders, while promoting informed giving and educating U.S. students about African life and culture.
In 2006, Professor of Economics and Social Science and Professor of Government Claudena Skran was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in Sierra Leone. She then created KidsGive to conduct annual excursions for students to Sierra Leone where they conduct their own research, volunteer and participate in activities at local schools.
In the past, individual research projects have included studies on topics from tourism to public health. KidsGive has provided sports equipment, books and even scholarships for struggling students. Students have presented their research and projects at Lawrence and to other schools across the country.
About 20 faculty and students were going to travel to Sierra Leone over spring break 2015 to volunteer and do research while visiting three partner schools. However, due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, KidsGive has had to postpone the trip. They are currently planning a research and volunteer trip to Jamaica for field experience in December 2016.
Instead of the trip, they have created a fundraising initiative titled the KidsGive Ebola Orphan Project to sponsor 100 children orphaned by the Ebola crisis.
“Even though we are not able to travel to Sierra Leone as a group this March, we still wanted to connect with our partner schools and try to help with some of the hardships they are facing,” said Skran. “The schools have been closed all year due to the outbreak and both children at the schools and parents of children have died. We all decided that the Ebola Orphan’s fundraiser would be a good way to support the schools and help those most affected by Ebola.”
The fundraiser kicked off at an event on Sunday, Feb. 15, where teams were given information on their sponsored child and KidsGive presented a slideshow about the organization as a whole. The fundraiser will last two weeks from Feb. 13-27, and students can still donate to the cause and learn more at KidsGive tables during lunchtimes in the Warch Campus Center. Once the fundraiser is over, the top teams will be rewarded with a pizza party put on by KidsGive.
Senior economics major and Finance Coordinator of KidsGive Liz Barthels participated in the trip to Sierra Leone in 2013 with a Field Experience class. She and other students set up a library at the Conforti school, held sports days and provided scholarships to students. “I thought it was such a great program [Professor Skran] got started here that I knew I had an interest in being a part of it,” said Barthels.
“What I find neat about it all is that we have a wide variety of groups getting involved,” said Barthels, “such as sports teams, sororities, fraternities, residence halls, choirs, smaller groups and staff members alike.”
For this fundraiser, KidsGive is working with one of the long-term partner schools, the Conforti School, as well as the NGO Conforti Community Aid Children’s Organization (CCACO). The children being aided by CCACO are registered in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children’s Affairs.
“This year’s fundraiser is special not only because we are helping those who really need it, in a country that many people on campus have a strong connection to,” said Barthels, “but also because it is bringing Lawrentians together from all groups across campus to work towards a common goal.”