Yesterday, I told you about the fundraiser by Humans of New York photoblogger who has raised almost $1 Million in a donation drive for a school in inner city NY. Read the story here.
But what I didn't know until I looked further into the page was that the Nigerian teacher Ms Achu, pictured above, sparked the idea for the fundraiser to expose and enrich her students through taking them to the prestigious university.
I spent yesterday afternoon in a brainstorming session with Ms. Lopez and her assistant principal Ms. Achu, trying to think of creative ways that the HONY community could help further the vision of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Our discussion covered many needs, but we kept returning to one in particular— the limited horizons of disadvantaged youth. Ms. Lopez’s school is situated in a neighborhood with the highest crime rate in New York, and many of her scholars have very limited mobility. Some of them are very much ‘stuck’ in their neighborhood. And many have never left the city. “It can be very difficult for them to dream beyond what they know,” Ms. Lopez explained.
So the three of us struck on an idea. (OK, it was Ms. Achu’s idea, but we all agreed.) We want to create a fund that will provide each incoming 6th grade class at Mott Hall Bridges Academy a chance to get out of their neighborhood and visit a new place. And that place is Harvard University. “I want every child who enters my school to know that they can go anywhere, and that they will belong,” said Ms. Lopez.
So we’re going to try to make it happen! Let’s help this visionary educator enrich the lives of her students.
Please consider donating: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/let-s-send-kids-to-harvard
And what is Ms Achu's life story?
“I was a teacher in Nigeria. I had 41 students in my classroom. Most of my students in Nigeria had no shoes, no clothes, no food. Nothing, nothing. But they wanted to learn. They showed up every day wanting to learn. When I told my colleagues that I was going to teach in America, they said: ‘Don’t do it. The students there don’t want to learn. They will scream all during class.’ In a way, they were right. My classrooms in America were much different than my classrooms in Nigeria. There were fewer students, and more resources, but there was not the same desire to learn. I’ve had to learn to teach motivation. And I’ve found that the only way it can be done is to show it myself. I try to teach each child as if they were my own. If the students see that I am trying my hardest every single day, many times they will respond by increasing their own effort.”
“I came from a very poor family. My father was a small farmer in Nigeria. And even though he had no education, he always taught me that education was the most important thing. He told me: ‘When you have no education, it’s like being in a small room with many people. There is little opportunity available to you, and many people are competing with you. But as you educate yourself, the room grows. You have more opportunities, and less people competing with you.’ I always remembered that. My mother died when I was twelve. I started working as a maid when I turned thirteen. I made 5 cents a day, which I saved for school. There was no free education in Nigeria. When I ran out of money, I’d stop going to school and go back to work. Stop, work, go back to school. Stop, work, go back to school. And all along my father would say, ‘You aren’t done yet. This is not your last bus stop. One day you will have so much education that you will teach in America.’”
And with all the money donated so far, the children can do more than visit Harvard, they will also have a scholarship to attend if they can qualify. Read the update below on the page and donate.
I am happy to announce that all funds raised over $700,000 will be reserved for a final purpose. We are starting a scholarship fund available to the graduates of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. A committee of MHBA educators and administrators will choose the recipients each year. We’re going to use the money from our fundraiser to get it started, but we’re also going to lay tracks so that it can hopefully continue to assist scholars for years to come. It will be called The Vidal Scholarship Fund. And the first recipient will be Vidal.