It was a jail where anyone would willingly like to go in and remain as an inmate, with snacks and soft drinks being served to those inside who were freely accessing all kinds of communication devices. The time was Thursday, Feb. 25, the place, a corner of the Ponoka Secondary Campus and the occasion, a fundraiser for a school in Africa: The inmates were only being freed after securing pledges of donations as their bail money.
And raise funds, they did, getting pledges amounting to $7,350.
The event, dubbed “Feast or Famine”, was organized by second-year science teacher Julie Anderson, who was inspired by her own mother who visited the resource-rich continent first in 2003 with a Canada-based charity called “A Better World”, and later with her daughter in 2006.
Anderson was involved in fundraising efforts for schools in Kenya back when she was still a high school student in Sylvan Lake and she said she wanted to bring the awareness and inspiration to her students in Ponoka.
The Ringa primary school Anderson is trying to help is located in the Kenya’s central Kericho area and it needs more classroom space. Anderson said their goal was to support the construction of two new classrooms at the school with the funds she was hoping to raise. She added that this first event was meant to be more aimed at generating interest and awareness and there would be other events in the coming weeks and months, like bake sales, and even creation of a club to organize further activities.
Alongside students, there were also members of teaching staff among the inmates and they also were involved in the fundraising effort.
Lindsay Gartner, one of the students who got into the jail and had raised $295 even before the end of her first full hour there, said she wanted to become part of the effort to support the opportunity of education for African kids.
“I am privileged to have an education here and there the girls don’t have education, education is nor properly given because of corruption and their school systems do not work properly. So that’s why I want to be of help,” she added.