Group helps African children attend school

For 15-year-old Brian Hickey, the best birthday gift is not a new video game, DVD or even cash. In fact, the only birthday presents he wanted this year were school supplies for children in Uganda.

Hickey asked his more than 15 guests to each bring a school supply to his Loudonville home during his Mardi Gras themed murder mystery birthday party on Saturday, Feb. 28.

According to his mother, Elaine Pers Hickey, the party, and the gifts were his idea, and in addition to the school supplies donation, Brian Hickey will also donate $100 of his own money to sponsor an Ugandan child as part of the Engeye program, which helps children in Uganda attend school.

Pers Hickey serves as co-coordinator for the Engeye Scholars Program, a program that she became involved with last year, in which sponsors give money to help fund the education of students in the African country of Uganda.

Theresa Weinman, administrative coordinator for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Albany Medical College and a member of Engeye of Glenmont, said Engeye began with Susan Nabukenya, an Ugandan girl who suffered from burn damage that covered most of her body.

Weinman said the burns had come from an accident when Nabukenya had spilled kerosene on her dress while helping her mother cook.

A medical team that Weinman knows through work sponsored a project to bring Nabukenya to the United States in May 18 and have doctors in Albany treat her burns.

After Nabukenya was treated, the group decided to take their efforts one step further.

She had not gone to school, said Weinman. "We didn't want to send her back to Africa healed, but really with no future."

So, the group began asking for donations to help fund Nabukenya's education. They needed $800 per year to send Nabukenya to school and began asking people to help.

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