| Jan 17, 2008

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Feature Article - January 17 2008 Hinchinbrooke PS best school in Happy Feet Campaign by Jule Koch Brison

The grade 4/5 class that leadthe fund raising, witha Mary Howes (far left), who was a major contributor to the campaign. At right: Marilyn Picard and Debbie Jones.

“Asante sana” and “lakupenda”, meaning “Thank you very much” and “I love you”, were greetings that Marilyn Picard and Irene Morton brought from children in Kenya to the students at Hinchinbrooke Public School on Tuesday.

Marilyn and Irene gave a slide show at the school so the Hinchinbrooke students could see how the money they collected in the Happy Feet campaign last year has been used.

For a toonie, students purchased paper flip flops, representing real flip flops that would be bought for children at Sirende Public School, to protect their feet from jiggers, a painful parasite that can burrow into their soles. The campaign was conducted at several area schools, and at Hinchinbrooke the students raised $1500. Picard told the children that though they were the smallest school, they raised the biggest amount for Happy Feet. “You are all global citizens,” she said.

Marilyn lives in Bell Rock and Irene is from Kingston. Altogether, along with money that Marilyn’s sister also raised in North Bay, there was enough to buy 2000 flip flops; a well and electricity for Sirende school; 25,000 lb. of food for over 100 families in slums; 400 blankets; a year of weekly meals for 40-60 street children; renovations for an orphanage and school; school supplies for several orphanage schools; wool for a micro-knitting business to make 26 widows self-sufficient, and many other projects.

Marilyn also showed a heartbreaking movie about the lives of street children in Kitale, where Sirende School is located. It is estimated that there are100 million street children around the world; in Kitale alone there are around 2700, almost all of whom are orphans. They carry around water bottles filled with shoe glue, which they sniff so they won’t feel the cold and the hunger.

Privately, before the Hinchinbrooke students entered the gym, Marilyn spoke of the emails she has been getting from friends in Kenya since the violence over the elections began. “Many of the orphans have disappeared,” she said. “No one knows where they are.”

Francis Migosi, a man that the group has been sponsoring to achieve his teacher’s degree, had to spend three weeks in jail just to stay safe, and when he returned to his home, it was burned down and everything was gone.

Still, she says, he’s happy to be alive, and Marilyn stressed that in spite of their difficult lives, the children are grateful for the help they’ve received. Many sent the paper feet back to Hinchinbrooke with notes of thanks written on them.

This year, the new campaign will be called “Seeds of Hope”, and paper sacks representing sacks of food will be sold for $2.

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