Middle school students raise money to assist their pen pals in Kenya

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By Meaghan Downs

In Kenya, the typical school classroom consists of just dirt floors and desks.
No computers, no tile hallways.
For the students in Elizabeth Mills’ sixth grade class at Anderson Middle School, this came as a shock as they corresponded via letter with Kenyan students practicing their English.
Mills started the 8,000-mile letter correspondence between Kentucky and Kenyan students after connecting with her friend, Alex Elliot, who taught in Kenya for four and a half months following graduation.
Mills said she thought the letter correspondence would be a great way to get the kids to learn more about the Kenyan people.  
“It’s really helped the kids become more aware of other cultures,” Mills said.
Not only did the students become aware of the culture, but they became aware of their pen pals’ struggle with famine and need in their native country.
Ally Wells, one of the students in Mills’ class, suggested that the Explorer sixth grade team begin collecting loose change to donate to the Tumaini orphanage and school, where their pen pals attended.
The students collected more than $150 in three weeks of gathering loose change, and some, according to Mills, don’t want to stop. She said the students will continue to collect money throughout the year for Tumaini Miles of Smiles.
Students will vote on where the money is applied, such as tuition, field trips funds, uniforms, a new library or Christmas presents.
“I thought it was important that the kids took ownership in the money, because it makes it more important to them,” Mills said.
Although this is the first time Mills has had her students correspond with others across the globe, it isn’t the last.
“I hope to keep in correspondence with the school in Africa, and with Alex, and do whatever I can,” Mills said.