Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2019

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Faith Lutheran students launch effort to help alleviate poverty in Kenya

Kenya Project's Community Night

Courtesy Photo

The Faith Lutheran High School student body helps set up of the World Vision virtual reality set for the Kenya Project’s Community Night.

A group of students at Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School is teaming with nonprofit World Vision to help sponsor impoverished children in two Kenyan villages.

The Summerlin school will host a rally at 5 p.m. today in its Performing Arts Center to launch the initiative.

“We’re inviting the whole, entire community,” Faith Lutheran Principal Scott Fogo said. “One of the things that we’ve been clear (on) very much, is that this is not just a Faith Lutheran adoption — it’s a community of people around Las Vegas that want to join in.”

The Kenya Project, the name chosen by students, was started by senior Haley Lilla and two other students with hopes of making a lasting impact on the world.

“By doing this, not only for the kids and the students and the faculty here at Faith, we will get to see how much doing one thing can change (things),” Lilla said. “I just think it’s more of a lasting impact, rather than just throwing your money at something.”

School officials said they elected to partner with World Vision because of the nonprofit’s size, funding and unique approach to helping. The nonprofit researches and listens to what the people in the target community needs, and then each sponsor, in this case Faith Lutheran and Las Vegas, help bring those needs to fruition.

Those needs vary depending on the village — some may need clean water systems, improved schools, health clinics or farming co-ops. Others may just need help with science equipment or school uniforms, Fogo said.

The goal by the end of the sponsorship is to create a sustainable plan to keep the children and people in those villages out of poverty. But the program isn’t just about Faith Lutheran students serving, it’s also about those students learning from the children they’re helping.

Each home classroom at Faith Lutheran will sponsor one child. The students at Faith Lutheran and the children in the villages will communicate with each other through videos where they’ll learn to say hello in Swahili, the language in Kenya, and learn more about how their sponsorship helps the child for that homeroom.

Additionally, World Vision will give Faith Lutheran curriculum to understand the root causes of poverty to teach to its students, Fogo said.

A contingent from Faith Lutheran will visit the villages to meet the children they’re helping in mid-September. Lilla launched a club to ensure that the Kenya Project remains student-run and active long after she graduates.

“Come join us, this is an invitation from our school and World Vision to join with us on this project and make a difference,” Fogo said. “When other people in a community have joined together to sponsor another community like this — it changes the people in America as much as it changes those in Kenya.”