MPA Middle School student Ailie O. will start 8th grade next month, but she is already helping to change the world. In her 7th grade year at MPA, Mrs. Atchison assigned a service project to students. "I told them they could either perform 30 'random acts of kindness' and document them or come up with their own project to change the world," Mrs. Atchison said.
Ailie chose to make a change by raising funds to pay for school tuition for a student in Africa. She was already planning to travel to Tanzania on a mission trip with her church, so she decided to do something for a child her own age. According to non-profit USAID,
40 percent of school-aged children in Africa do not attend primary school and 46 million African children have never stepped foot in a classroom.
In order to raise money, Ailie came up with a creative plan spawned by the TLC show Extreme Couponing. "Ailie started by asking me if I would give her the money she saved with coupons," explained Traci Tapani, Ailie's mom. By hunting for coupons in newspapers, online, and in the mail, Ailie has been raising money for months toward her goal.
With the help of her church, Ailie was able to travel to the village of Iringa in Tanzania to meet and choose a student to sponsor. But when she had to choose, Ailie was inspired to raise even more funds and sponsor two students. Tuition for one student is $360 per year. In Tanzania, a student will be in secondary school for somewhere between 4 and 6 years. Ailie says she plans to sponsor these students until they complete their secondary education.
"Ailie actually wrote a contract between her and I that says she is responsible for saving the money needed for tuition by a certain date," said Tapani. "If she doesn't save the money she is going to pay the balance from her own savings."
When Ailie met the two
students she is sponsoring - a boy and a girl her age - she said the effects of
her efforts became a reality. "They were actually crying," she said. "They
couldn't believe someone in America would help them."