KAMLOOPS - Three local elementary schools are collecting coins, selling milkshakes, and even having a dance, in an effort to raise funds for families in need in Nicaragua.
The students are raising money for the community based around the El Limonal Dump near Chinandega in western Nicaragua, where workers comb through trash to find recyclables to sell.
Jennifer Jones, a teacher at Parkcrest Elementary School, is leading the drive between her school, Westmount Elementary and A.E. Perry Elementary. Each school is raising money in their own ways. The plan is to wrap up the drive March 1 and send a cheque to the community of approximately 2,500 people.
“We’re doing the cookie grams and we’re also doing the ‘Change for Change’ coin drive,” Jones says of her students.
She says the drive is also an opportunity to teach, with her class learning a variety of things through the fundraising.
“This is tied right into math and social studies and health and career education,” she says. “From counting the coins to learning about health by comparing what we have here to other places in the world. When you’re teaching real world projects like this students are more interested and you’re able to teach in a more meaningful way.”
Jones says while Kamloops has long had a relationship with Nicaragua, this project started when she connected with Jesse Rothenburger, a Kamloops man who made a documentary about El Limonal Dump in 2014. Called Gringos in the Garbage, money raised from the film and the book have gone back to the community for housing and infrastructure.
The schools are also working with the Global Solidarity Group, which Rothenburger is a member of. Teresa Cline of the Global Solidarity Group says there’s a whole economy based around the dump.
“There’s a sewer and a dump and a cemetery surrounding there, and they have property that they own. They have shanty shacks next to the dump.” she says. “People sell lunch to the workers.”
However, like Canada, the workers were hit by the economic downturn and a falling commodities market. Cline says income fell and food costs rose for the community.
“They were just barely making enough to feed themselves as it was,” Cline says.
“For every $10 we bring in that’ll feed a family for a week in Nicaragua,” Jones adds.
The money from this drive will be going to food hampers, but other funds raised by the Global Solidarity Group go directly to the community for them to decide how best to use the money.
Those interested in donating to the schools’ fundraising efforts can donate to the Change for Change drive.
The documentary Gringos in the Garbage is showing this weekend at the Blue Grotto as well.
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