Central gives back

Central gives back
Central gives back

            Fundraisers conducted by 7th grade IB students at Central Middle International School will allow young girls at an orphanage in India to purchase more than 100 chicks for a sustainability project.

            The project coincided with the 7th-grade humanities unit called “Oil, Turmoil, and Poverty”, which covers the countries of Asia. The students focused specifically on India and the issues that arise when a population surpasses 1 billion.

            Humanities teacher Pat O’Brien explained that since the International Baccalaureate program emphasizes community service, Central students were encouraged during this unit to take action to improve their world.

            As part of the unit, Thomas Ravi Mollhagen, founder of the Faith In Deeds children’s home in India, shared his story with Central 7th-graders. Thomas, who began life as Manda Ravi Babu, was born to a family of India’s lowest caste – known as the untouchables.

            Thomas learned early in life that his family struggled to have enough food. For as long as he can remember, Thomas tried to help provide food for his family by catching fish, stealing fruit, gathering leftover rice from the fields, and scraping leftovers he found on the ground at the vegetable market.

            Eventually, Thomas’s parents placed him, and one of his brothers, in an orphanage in hopes that an American family could give them a better life. The pair then was adopted by a Michigan woman.

            As an adult, Thomas said he felt called to return to India to help children who were part of the “untouchables” class. This calling led Thomas to establish the Faith in Deeds orphanage.

            Central IB students have partnered with the orphanage since the 2012-2013 school year. Each year, the 7th-grade class must decide if they want to help the children at Faith in Deeds, and if so, how they will help them.

            “This is completely student-driven,” Mrs. O’Brien explained. “I simply act as a facilitator for the project.”

            The 2017-2018 7th-grade students, impacted by Thomas’s presentation, decided to help the young girls in the home.

            “The students really took it to heart that they could make a difference for kids half a world away,” Mrs. O’Brien added.

            Central students have filled a different need for the orphanage each school year. Central donated wash cloths in 2012-2013, and soap in 2013-2014. In 2014-2015, Central 7th-graders collected Band-Aids of all designs to send to the children in India.

            The orphanage’s executive director sent a thank-you note in 2015, explaining the impact of Central’s donation.

            The note read: “Thank you so much for the Band-Aids for the children in India! These are children without families; however, through you and others, they are being loved. The children were very excited about the colors and variety of Band-Aids. In fact, the children wanted to put bandages on for the very smallest cut or hurt (even if the skin wasn’t broken). Thank you, for your thoughtfulness in giving this gift to them!”

            The following school year (2015-2016), Central students created First Aid kits for the children’s home. The 7th-graders collected items that are hard to find in India. The items students collected were very important in protecting the children in India’s tropical climate. These items included disposable gloves, durable bandages of all sizes, bug spray, triple antibiotic ointment, Benadryl cream for itchy bug bites, and chewable or gummy vitamins.

            In 2016-2017, the Central students provided a more personal gift for the kids in the children’s home. These seventh-graders spent many hours writing letters to the children, and creating friendship bracelets with personal name tags.

            Thomas asked the Central students to help with a different kind of gift this school year.

            “Thomas really wanted help in making the kids in the children’s home more self-sufficient by teaching them a life skill,” Mrs. O’Brien explained.

            Central 7th-graders learned that one of the items on the home’s wish list was chicks that the children could raise for eggs and meat. The Central students set out to raise $500, which would allow Thomas to purchase 100 chicks for the home.

            In order to raise the money, some Central students sold egg-shaped suckers, while others offered henna tattoos for $5. The henna was 7th-grader Anjili Sood’s idea. Anjili’s mom, who is from India, taught her the art of applying henna tattoos – a  skill that has been passed down in the Sood family for generations.

            In a week’s time, the students raised a total of $566.72, surpassing their initial $500 goal, and then sent the check to Thomas. Within a few weeks, the students received a “Thank You” note, which included an update from the children’s home founder. Thomas explained that that after May and June (the hottest months in India) he will use the money to purchase more chickens to add to their chicken farm. In the meantime, the children have built a fence to prepare for their new arrivals.

            The note added, “Thank you so much for your gift of $566.72 to buy chickens! You are helping this small community in India work towards becoming self-sustaining by providing the people a way to raise their own chickens. This helps us to provide nutritious meals for our kids… with quality eggs and meat for our kids’ favorite meal: chicken curry!”

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