Amy Doyle introduced Nikola Toomat, a teacher with the HPEDSB, who leads an after school program for students, "Students for Africa in Mutual Empowerment for International Development". With Nikola were several students from four different schools who meet regularly to learn about African children, their culture and way of life, and also to raise funds to help these children have more supplies for their schools. This organization is set up as a non -profit organization in Ontario, and they are seeking charitable status. The organization is 100% volunteer-based and all money raised is sent to the community in Tanzania to improve the living conditions and education opportunities of children in rural Africa.
 
Nikola grew up in Lesotho, Africa,  but now teaches in public schools in Canada. She started at Prince Charles School in the Hastings board and has changed schools 3 times, setting up a club in each school. She is also a member of a band, called "Suck it up, Princess". smiley
 
The objective of the after school program is about children helping children, while gaining knowledge about life in another part of the world.  Young people devote time, creativity and energy to fundraising initiatives, correspondence and learning more about life in another part of the world.  The program helps students understand the needs of  our world, and to enable them to see that they can help to make the world a better place. The grade 5-6 curriculum focuses on children around the world, and Nikola's students have connected with children who are part of a Masai tribe in Tanzania, Africa, a community of approximately 500 people.   They have written letters back and forth and have had face time on Skype with their counterparts in Africa. They have special fundraising projects , such as plant sales, craft sales, and electronic recycling depot days, to help raise money to buy pencils and other school supplies. They are also  helping to build a well, and put in solar panels in the village where the African children live and providing the salary for a nursery school teacher to take care of small children in the village.  A scholarship program is in place through the program's fundraising efforts so that a member of the village can train to be a teacher.  Desks, benches, uniforms, soccer balls and other school supplies have also been provided.
 
A video on how to be a global citizen was shown, featuring the children in the school clubs..
 
200 lbs of clothing were taken to Tanzania last summer to assist these children and their families.
 
The students answered questions :
- getting to know kids in Africa has shown me how lucky we are in Canada.
- red is a significant colour because it is the colour of blood, and it reminds the people how important their cattle are to their economy
- in Tanzania, kids are learning English in school, and we have learned some Swahili - we use Google translate to help in pur communication.
- we Skype more often than we write letters because the cost of mailing is high, and it takes a long time for letters to go back and forth
- we have some boys in the clubs, but girls seem to be more interested than boys in projects like this
- we have made skipping ropes from milk bags, art from discarded wood pieces, and we sell these to get soccer balls, pay for a  pre-school teacher, and get pots and pan for households
 
Upcoming events that you can support:
- yard sale in Trenton - Sat., May 28, electronics recycling in Trenton, May 27 - June 29 (2 locations: 390 Sidney Street, and 36-40 Rivers Dr.)
 
Contact info@students forafrica.org for more details.
 
In - kind donations  (new or gently used items) - cuddly African animals, airmail paper and greeting cards, yarn and large crochet hooks, clean milk bags, hammers, nails and sewing scissors, children's books about Africa
Elizabeth Grew thanked Nikola and the children for coming.
 
 
 
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