Just One Africa is an international nonprofit that works with local leaders in Kenya to provide sustainable water solutions for vulnerable children and those affected by the clean water crisis and has been working with students and teachers in Forsyth County schools for over 6 years. The organization teaches local students about the clean water crisis, sharing stories that prompt critical thinking on how to go about solving problems, and promotes the power of ‘one’ by involving students in volunteer activities such as the Beads for Water program. These programs allow students to learn about the global water crisis while also providing a hands-on volunteer opportunity to take action in being a part of a solution to this global need.
The very first Just One Africa Club was started at South Forsyth Middle School in 2013 with the intention of creating a local outreach to the international nonprofit and to offer young adults the opportunity to learn about the world around them. Throughout the years, with the support of the school’s administration team, the students and staff have raised money for several different water and sustainability programs in Kenya. This year, the club, sponsored by SFMS teachers Sarah Armstrong, Ingrid Burnell, Jane Fuller, and Kelsie Hand, chose to focus on a sustainability project that would create nourishment and profit for the Just One Africa partners at Hope Beyond Transitional Center in Kimana, Kenya.
Hope Beyond Transitional Center is a home for boys and girls who have been abused, orphaned, or neglected. The center must provide food, clothing, shelter, and fees for education for each child they have rescued. The center also maintains an educational facility (one of the best in the nation) and must pay for staff and supplies at the school. The burden that comes with a lack of clean water was solved many years ago for this school, but there is a daily need for sustainable sources of income to board and educate the students.
Learning that clean water can change lives is an important start in helping an economy grow. Clean water is not a reality for everyone in the world and the ripple impact reaches far and wide. What the SFMS club members learned was in supporting Just One Africa’s sustainability projects, independence grows and fosters a foundation for change that will affect the community. When SFMS opened the doors for global issues to be discussed, the students learned how they can make a difference in the lives of others thousands of miles away.
This year, even without completing the year at school, South Forsyth Middle School raised over $800 to support the Hope Beyond Transitional Center in Kimana, Kenya. Students John League, Cassie Mistry, Joshua Paturi, and staff members Ingrid Burnell, Kelsie Hand, and Sarah Armstrong woke up extra early once a month to host a Chick-fil-A biscuit sale before school. What their effort resulted in, was money raised to purchase goats and chickens for the Center’s newly developed Goat and Chicken projects. Now more milk, meat, and eggs will be available to feed the students. As the capacity of the programs grows, and goods are sold in the local market, funds are provided providing a sustainable source for the educational fees.
Helping others isn’t canceled. We continue to help each other because we need each other. We need to know we are seen, we need to remember working together makes so much possible, we need to be reminded that investing in the lives of others in a positive way is worth it…we need to know that we can make a difference! The students in the Just One Africa club at South Forsyth Middle created real life change by helping others.
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall.
You can change the lives of the people locally and globally. If you want to know more about Just One Africa and how you can create change on a global scale, visit www.justoneafrica.org.
AMY CHURCHILL, JUST ONE AFRICA – NON-PROFIT EDITOR
Amy has lived in Forsyth County with her husband Clay and their three kids for 17 years. During her kids’ early teenage years, their family traveled to Kenya over Spring Break with their church. They returned to the U.S. deeply challenged by what they saw and learned but inspired by the amazing people they met. Just a few months later they launched their non-profit, Just One Africa. Their foundational belief if that JUST ONE person can make a difference, and that JUST ONE person is worth making a difference for. Amy loves the opportunities to build relationships with the wonderful local leaders in the Kenyan communities she serves while away from the states. Upon returning to the US, she connects with schools, churches, and businesses to share ways that our local community can change the world for good.
In Kenya, Amy can often be found walking home to home conducting follow up interviews on their Clean Water Program or sitting with the Masai mamas who handmake the paper beads for the world-changing jewelry they offer online or talking with the girls in the rescue program. Coming from a long line of family members who dedicated themselves to caring and serving others, it seems only natural to continue on with the biggest blessing, which is being able to serve together in such significant ways as a family. Seeing how her children have embraced the changes they have made as a family to start up and grow Just One Africa, have been a constant source of inspiration and reinforce that it really does take JUST ONE person to make a difference!