Westwood students build Bridge to Burundi
HUDSON - Students at Westwood High school in Hudson have succeeded in expanding their educational frontiers farther than they thought possible.
In the past year they have raised money, found teachers, and created a school in Burundi, Africa.
For student Lindsay Peets education is a gift like no other.
"It's something that we take so for granted here, but it's something which is really their ticket for success over there," said Peets.
"It makes such a big impact on their life, long-term."
The Westwood Bridge to Burundi project began last year.
Peter Nield says students wanted to do something concrete.
"Instead of jumping on the coattails of another NGO and handing over cheques, they wanted it to become a learning experience and to create a project that could be replicated by other school groups," said Peter Nield.
They raised more than $40,000 in less than one year.
"They started off fundraising the traditional way, with dances, bottle drives and Christmas carolling for donations," said Nield.
Then Westwood brought in a former Facebook executive to teach the kids how to rake in on-line donations.
Within months building a school became reality.
One of Westwood's teachers, who is actually from Burundi, oversaw the construction of the two-room school this summer.
He has been teaching the new school's 95 students since it opened on September 20th.
Parent and volunteer Kelly Hepburn Scott has been to Africa three times, and is part of a group trying to get a communications tower built close to the school.
"Even if you have a cell phone you have to climb up on top of the hill, and lean to the left or right to make it work," said Scott.
Westwood students have now started going to grade six classrooms in the Montreal area to teach children here about what they've done, and the hardships faced by students in Africa.
Teacher Noam Guerrier Freud is impressed.
"When I was in grade six there was no one really who got me involved in this kind of stuff but I'm sure I would have wanted to," he said.