Quaker Valley’s Osborne to aid students in Uganda

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 6:01 AM

The 387 students at Osborne Elementary are used to giving back through an annual service project that takes place the day before winter break. In recent years, they have collected and donated supplies to schools in need.

But this year, students won’t take a day to give back — they’ll take the entire school year.

Working with the nonprofit CEED, Osborne is working to raise funds to drill a water well for a community in Uganda.

“The students know it’s not just going to take a couple weeks. It’s a long-term goal,” said Leah Lindenfelser, school counselor. “We typically spend one day and move on. This is something we will work on all year.”

The idea started with Gretchen Scalzi, a member of the Home & School Association at Osborne. Her uncle, Jim West, works with CEED (Christian East African Economic Development), a nonprofit that operates three hydraulic drilling rigs with Ugandan teams, and has drilled or rehabbed more than 350 wells.

In Kabwoya, villagers and students from God’s Care Primary School walk two miles to get water from a stream.

“The water is used to wash vehicles and animals,” said Scalzi. “They walk close to two miles twice a day, every day, to get that water.”

If Osborne students attain their fundraising goal of $4,500, they’ll have enough to allow the Ugandan school to drill a well — with clean drinking water — right on the school property for the entire village.

On Oct. 8, Osborne got a visit from Herbert Asiimwe, the managing director for CEED Uganda, who told them what obstacles children in the village face. A video of the students was shown, and Osborne students got to ask Asiimwe questions.

“It’s about teaching them empathy,” said Lindenfelser. “Empathy is a word we want to teach them, but not one we use enough.”

It didn’t take long for Osborne students to empathize with their peers in Uganda. Noticing many of the children didn’t wear shoes in the video, they decided to find a way to try to send them some.

“And they’re going to exchange letters, like pen pals,” Lindenfelser said. “We want to build a relationship with the school.”

After meeting with Asiimwe, students went outside where parents set up water stations to show how many gallons of water are used by students in the U.S. every day compared to how much is used by the villagers. They then carried jugs filled with water so that, for a little while at least, they could experience what it’s like for Kabwoya students to get water.

In addition to a wishing well placed in Osborne’s main lobby where students and teachers can deposit money toward the goal, future fundraising initiatives are being planned, including introducing elements of Ugandan culture into the annual international night held in the spring.

“It’s just really important for us to help children understand there is life beyond Sewickley, Pennsylvania and the United States,” Lindenfelser said.

To find out more or to donate, email osbornehsa@gmail.com or lindenfelserl@qvsd.org.