Annual Service Project Supports Students In West Africa

It’s no secret that CDI Scholars are dedicated, hard-working students who spend more than half of their high school careers working with our counselors and tutors to gain access and admission to highly selective colleges and universities. But even with all of the pressures and challenges that come with being first-generation-to-college students navigating their paths to college graduation, the 2020 class of CDI Scholars found time to donate their creativity and abounding energy to lend a helping hand to students on the other side of the globe.

The first of two buildings at the Gbongton Primary School that serves more than 300 students from around the region.

More than 4,500 miles from Bethesda, in a small, rural village in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, 300 students share five classrooms at a school that did not exist just three years earlier. As it remains the only school in the area, the Gbongton Primary School is charged with meeting the educational needs of all of the students in the region with a staff consisting of only three teachers and three teacher aides.

Following a two-year effort, the nonprofit Family Foundation, which funded the construction the school’s two buildings, was able to convince the Sierra Leone Ministry of Education to pay the teachers, but unfortunately, not the aides. Already understaffed, the inability of the school to pay aides and expand its permanent staff had the potential to make a tenuous situation even more dire.

Daniel Koroma, founder of the Gbongton Primary School addresses CDI Scholars.

As fate would have it, members of CDI’s executive staff met representatives from the Family Foundation and learned about Gbongton at the same time the Scholars were researching possibilities for their annual Scholar-Led Service Project.

After meeting with Daniel Koroma, founder of the Gbongton Primary School, CDI Scholars chose to make assisting the school the primary focus of their service project.

In the weeks that followed CDI Scholars placed donation boxes in schools, started a GoFundMe campaign, created an Instagram account, and even sold hot chocolate to raise both awareness and money.

CDI Scholars participate in a hot chocolate sale to raise money and awareness for the Gbongton Primary School.

At the end of the project, the Scholars helped raise more than $2,000 and received donations that included notebooks, crayons, pencils, pens, markers, folders, glue, erasers, note pads, index cards, rulers, and more. Most importantly the money raised will help Gbongton hire additional staff to help even more children fulfill their educational aspirations!

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