From Madison to Kenya

This Sunday First Congregational will have a great opportunity to hear from the students who have participated in PA-MOJA, a project that connects people and wildlife.  More importantly, it has connected students from East High School in Madison to Malek Secondary in Laikipia, Kenya. Leading the program for East High School is our very own Leigh Viersta. Many of you remember Leigh as a child of First Cong, but she has also been supported by First Cong in her personal growth. In 2006 Leigh traveled to the Marshall Islands, as a teacher. You might remember Leigh brought back baskets as a gift to the church. We use these baskets to collect our offering the first Sunday of every month, which we will be using this Sunday. It is our honor to promote this adventure of learning for youth in the PA-MOJA Project.
            First, a little history of the Project. PA-MOJA (Swahili for together) is a non-profit organization started in 2006 by a Canadian primatologist. Through educational development PA-MOJA aims to help all people see the value in protecting the environment that sustains them. PA-MOJA helps communities through two strategic partnerships: first, working in conjunction with Ol Pejeta Conservancy, East Africa's 2nd largest Rhino conservancy, and North American schools to build understanding, awareness, and empathy towards other cultures and wildlife species. Second, PA-MOJA partners with North American and Kenyan schools to fund scholarships and improve the educational infrastructures of Kenyan schools so that students have a place in which to effectively learn, end the cycle of poverty, and reduce the communities' reliance on unsustainable poaching as a main economic activity. These sustainability measures include funding infrastructure systems such as water tanks, classrooms, and biogas for the school lunch program to ensure that these communities thrive.
            The mission of the East High School program is to help East High School students grow into global citizens and future leaders. The program has three parts. Part one is to Explore. Students begin their exploration of Kenyan culture and prepare for their in-country learning experience. With the goal of creating globally and culturally competent graduates, East High School has spent the last two years learning and growing together with Malek Secondary. Part two is Interact. After two years of exchanging words and images, the students are now ready to work side by side. To make the program inclusive to all, each student was funded 100% for the travel experience. No one should be kept from this great opportunity because of expense. Part three is Reflect, Present & Act. Upon the students return from Kenya, the students will be responsible for reflecting on their experience and presenting to donors, community members and peers.
            This Sunday the students who traveled to Kenya will be reflecting on their time and learning in Kenya. They are with us to help us understand how the gifts of members of this church made their personal transformations possible. We are proud to support this great program, and we are proud to have Leigh as a member of First Congregational. We are excited that she is part of such wonderful programming in the Madison Public Schools.    
~ Eldonna Hazen

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 11:44 am in Featured Content.

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