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US Students raise money by mimicking living in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 25, 2012

FARMINGTON, N.M. (WTW) — A serious shortage of elephant dung was the first obstacle in what turned out to be a fun but rough spring break for 20 local students.

During their spring break, a group of middle school, high school and college-aged students raised funds for a small village in Kenya by building a mud hut model and living in conditions similar to those in the east African country.

“The first day killed em,” said Keith Neil, youth pastor at Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington.

The students, all members of the church, lived in tents in a canyon downhill from their church for four days. During the week, the participants ate a diet of eggs, fruit and beef stew all typical Kenyan foods.

The students slept through cold nights, spent days without snacking and were prohibited from taking any technology into the camp.

“It was hard, but I think I learned a lot,” said Ian Campbell, 17.

They constructed a shelter from stucco, plywood and tin scraps to create a model of the huts they will build later this year when they visit a small village in Kenya. In Kenya, the huts instead are made of wooden poles, branches, mud and elephant dung.

“We made a pretty stinking cool hut,” said Neil, acknowledging that it was possible despite the lack of pachyderm poop.

“We really wanted to show people … When you put your money toward this project, this is what we’re going to do with it,” he said. The group termed the project “Hut Town” to encourage visitors.

The students in May will visit the tiny village of Ahero, a village about 30 miles south of Kisumu City on Lake Victoria. The church has partnered with the organization Houses of Hope, which pinpoints the neediest families in the community and matches them with volunteers who help construct the huts.

“The huts are like the size of my room,” Campbell said. “I can hardly imagine living in that.”

The huts are about 16 by 18 feet and usually are home to about seven family members. They cost about $400 each to build.

“It’s ugly as can be, but it’s somebody’s home,” said Neil.

The group in May, and another team in July, will head to Kenya to build 12 huts in four days all of them funded by money raised during the students’ spring break efforts.

Last year, the same group did a similar fundraiser for Haiti by creating a “Tent City” that mirrored one of those set up on the island nation after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

They raised about $10,000 in pledges and donations last year, and they reached about the same amount this year, Neil said.

During the week, students also assisted Masada House, a women’s transitional housing shelter, by doing maintenance work around the facility.

The hut, however, must be torn down because of city codes that require a permit for a structure such as the hut. Neil said he could not find one.

“There is no permit for an African mud hut,” he said.

Source: http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com/usatoday/article/38886295?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs

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