Half a world away, in the nation of Madagascar, children who might otherwise never have had the chance, are going to school. They are also receiving at least one nourishing meal a day. They even have the opportunity to visit an on site doctor, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
The Madagascar School Project, which began in 2007, under the leadership of former Maxville teacher, Kathy Lucking, is an attempt to directly “confront the problem of education” in this desperately poor African nation.
Inspired by the work of missionary Mary Sherwood in Madagascar, Lucking has devoted the last seven years to building schools, with the help of many Canadian donors, and giving children hope and the chance to dream. Lucking was recently honoured with an Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Humanitarian Award.
In her efforts, she has been heartily supported by the South Dundas Anglican Parish Outreach committee. On October 3, 2014, the all volunteer, not-for-profit committee sponsored their second fund raising dinner for the Madagascar School Project.
“The congregation that lives by itself, dies by itself,” said the Reverend Sid Irwin, who along with his wife, Elizabeth, first proposed to the Outreach team the idea of supporting Lucking’s educational efforts. “We needed to do something which fell outside our own local concerns and we found this international project.”
“The whole parish is now behind the project,” added Elizabeth Irwin.
The fund raising dinner was held at the Morrisburg Royal Canadian Legion, and drew 145 guests. Before the delicious meal (served by volunteers from Seaway High School), the crowd was entertained by the elegant musical stylings of Tea and Tartan, Cathy Graham and Sharon Baird. Just before the guest speaker, a phenomenal young artist, 10-year-old Kayleigh Styles, delighted listeners with her powerful songs.
In her inspiring address, Kathy Lucking showed the crowd the great progress that has been made at the Madagascar School Project, as a result of their support. This includes, in 2010, the opening of a second school, the Sekoly Tenaquip school, which now teaches 126 new pupils.
She also introduced the audience to Toonie Twinning, a new concept which permits people to “adopt” a child in the Project. A sponsor’s toonie a week pays for a Malagasy child’s education.
Robin Lane, with the organizational committee for the Project, reported that Kathy and the South Dundas volunteers were excited that nine new Toonie Twinners signed up.
Ticket sales and donations on the night brought in $4,595. Other donations brought in a further $1,111. “We are really thrilled with the great support,” said Lane. “And funds are still coming in.”