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Youngsters spend summer helping others

CARLSBAD —Two 11th-grade students, Anisha Mudaliar and Tiffany Chu, took their Pacific Ridge service-learning project overseas this summer to assist in building schoolhouses in the Kenyan communities of Oloosiyoi and Salabwek.
Throughout the school year, Anisha, Tiffany and 19 other members of the service learning group Otesha, meaning “a reason to dream,” raised funds for Free the Children, the nonprofit organization they teamed up with to benefit youth in the communities of Oloosiyoi and Salabwek and others. The group’s fundraising activities, which yielded $9,000, included bake sales, car washes, a themed dance, a booth at Fall Fest, and a Vow of Silence to raise awareness about silenced children throughout the world. One of the group’s goals was to travel to Kenya and build a school themselves. Their dream came true.
Mudaliar and Chu departed for Kenya Aug. 8. In addition to physically building the schoolhouse walls with bricks and cement in Salabwek, the students’ three-week travels also included a stay in a Maasai Mara, a stay with a family in Oloosiyoi, and a safari ride.
“The Pacific Ridge School service learning curriculum was a driving factor for our participation with Free the Children,” Mudaliar said. “The encouragement from the school, our teachers and our peers has given us the confidence to travel abroad. We are all interconnected and it’s important to experience new cultures and meet new people. Being a part of a program like Free the Children shows me that I have the power to make a difference.”
“One of the many lessons I took from this experience is the understanding that we are all very similar,” Chu said. “The school in Oloosiyoi is starting very much like Pacific Ridge School, through community donations and fundraising.”