Crofton pupils provide helping hand to Kenyans

NEIGHBORS

January 25, 2000|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN CHILDREN in our neighborhood are thirsty, they just run into the kitchen and get a glass of water from the faucet. Water is something we take for granted. It's always there, for cooking, for cleaning, for bathing.

Even during the summer drought, most of us experienced only inconvenience, not a drastic change in our lives.

But pupils at Crofton Woods Elementary School have learned that for many children, the lack of water is a constant, serious problem. Each year, the school's fourth-graders spend several months learning about the African country of Kenya.

Tim Gregory, the school's artist in residence, has taught the children Kenyan music, dance and folklore. During his visits to Kenya, he discovered a lot of fascinating things about the country that he has shared with the Crofton children. But one story especially touched their hearts.

Gregory told of meeting Kenyan children who spent so many hours walking to gather water for their families that they had no time left to attend school.

The village had only a small cistern to gather rainwater. When that container was empty, the children were forced to walk for miles to collect precious water.

The Crofton children decided they could do something about it.

During the 1998-1999 school year, they collected coins in a jar placed in the media center. By the end of the school year, they had amassed $800 to help pay for a well in the Kenyan community.

Gregory recently returned from another trip to Kenya with pictures of the village and a report on the results of the Crofton Woods effort.

At first, he said, villagers tried to dig a well, but the condition of the soil made this impossible. Instead, the village installed a cistern large enough to hold a two-year supply of water.

Now, in an area of the world where rainfall is sporadic, the village can better prepare for the prolonged dry periods. And the children can go to school.

Gregory delivered another gift from the Crofton children to their Kenyan counterparts: a huge box of pencils. He had taken note of how few basic school supplies were available to students and teachers. So the American children gathered hundreds of pencils of all kinds to send to their African friends.

Crofton children loved the pictures that Gregory shared of the children in Kenya lining up to receive two pencils each -- and accepting them, he said, as true treasures.

Carole Schwalm, a music teacher at Crofton Woods, looks forward to this year's Kenya studies. The classes will study videotapes and musical recordings that Gregory brought back from his trip. But most of all, they will cherish the smiles they helped bring to the faces of children in a faraway African village.

Congregational meeting

Crofton's Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church will hold its annual congregational meeting at 12: 30 p.m. Sunday in the church's Fellowship Hall.

During the meeting, annual reports on each area of the church's ministry will be presented and discussed. A potluck lunch will be served.

After each worship service Sunday, church youth groups will collect donations of money to be used in the fight against hunger in Anne Arundel County.

Rec and Parks offerings

The county Recreation and Parks Department is offering a series of courses during the next few weeks throughout West County -- including two for Valentine's Day.

In a Make-It-Take-It session at 7 p.m. Monday at Crofton Middle School, participants will create a Victorian lace heart wreath. The cost for materials will be $15.

The other -- Massage for Couples -- will be presented at Four Seasons Elementary School from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 5. The cost is $20 per couple.

People who would like to learn about birds and how to attract them can attend "For the Birds," a five-week course that will meet at 7 p.m. on Mondays beginning next week. The class fee is $50, and the cost of supplies $12 to $18.

Information: Bob Brandenburger, 410-222-7313.

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