Students supporting students: Community rallies for Kenya orphanage | DrumhellerMail

Students supporting students: Community rallies for Kenya orphanage

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    The community of Drumheller is showing its support for a small orphanage and school in Kenya.
    Irv and Corrine Gerling, retired teachers in Drumheller, are active with Our lady of Grace Children’s Home and School in Marimba. These are funded by Action for God’s Love (AFGL). This is an all volunteer-run organization, which aims to improve the material and spiritual lives of those trapped in poverty. This was set up by former Drumheller resident Rita Balachandran, nee Rovere.
    The orphanage and school are on land owned by the Catholic diocese, and since 2006 Rita has adopted hundreds of girls, many are orphans who lost their parents due to AIDS.
     The Gerlings have travelled to Kenya to lend their expertise to the organization three times. In 2019, teacher Lynn Hemming joined them for a month and it was a life-changing experience. When she learned they were going back, she once again signed on.
    Hemming also enlisted her oldest daughter Ashley Green.
    Green has her Bachelor of Arts and she is a professional photographer and a Zumba instructor. She is going to teach and do dance instruction. She is also planning to use her photography and multimedia skills to help make presentations to promote the cause.
    To support their journey several students throughout the valley have shown their support.

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     Students at Greentree School in Mrs. Walker’s class have collected and filled 100 pencil cases with much-needed school supplies for the students at the school.
    “These will be very appreciated. We saw kids writing with a little stub of a pencil and they were scared to ask for another because pencils are expensive,” said Hemming. “So we know they will really appreciate the pencils.”
    The F.O.R. Club at DVSS has also contributed 50 filled pencil cases and undertook some fundraising effort for the supplies.
    The Student Council at DVSS also showed their support and they were able to send $850 to the school. Hemming said they will use these funds to purchase supplies locally because it reduces the cost of shipping and supports the local economy
    The Gerlings, Hemming, and Green will be heading for Kenya on February 24.
    The work continues for Our Lady of Grace Home and School and AFGL is continuing to fundraise. August saw the completion of proper washrooms at the school to replace the pit latrines. The current project is to raise funds to construct a new concrete and stone block building to house the Kindergarten and grade one classes. Classes are currently held in a primitive tin walled, dirt-floored shelter.
    Action for God’s Love has recently upgraded its website You will find more information about the home, photos, descriptions of projects and links to make donations.

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