Would you call your teacher a chicken?
That’s exactly what the students of Bethlehem Central Middle School did to purchase more than 500 chickens and a cow for a sustainable project to help impoverished people in Uganda.
The students raised $2850 to present to Mark Bertrand, founder and director of The Giving Circle Inc., a Capital District nonprofit that builds schools, orphanages and sustainable agricultural projects in Uganda, where the average per capita income is less than $5 per day.
The students held a coin drive, “penny wars” and showed a movie to raise the money. They called their fundraiser the “Call Your Teacher a Chicken” drive, where each homeroom could name the chickens they purchased after their teachers or famous people.
The money from this donation will be used to purchase a milking cow for the Giving Circle’s Busoga Primary School in Jinja, Uganda. The 500 chickens will be divided into groups of 20 and given to 25 families to start small sustainable businesses that will provide breeding chickens and eggs for people who are desperately poor.
A chicken breeding building will be constructed next to the school that will also serve as a life science and agricultural teaching classroom. The building will be named “The Bethlehem Central Middle School Friendship Building” in reflection of the students’ efforts.
These initiatives were part of the sixth grade global social studies curriculum at BCMS, where students learn about the social and economic factors affecting people in different nations, as the students develop global leadership and citizenship skills by engaging in projects that have a “real world” impact.
Matt Hicks, Nassir Young and Billy VanAmburgh, are three of the sixth-grade “coin ambassadors” who spent time distributing the coin cans across the school and then counting thousands of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters at the end of the drive.
“We did this because we wanted to do the one thing that could possibly change the whole world” said Nassir.
Billy added, “From this project I learned that just one penny can make a change.”
Matt concluded, “Students need to become world citizens because they are the future citizens of this planet.”
In response to the students’ efforts, Bertrand replied, “We are so grateful to all the staff and to the wonderful caring students of Bethlehem Middle school for their hard work and compassion expressed in this wonderful gift. The students of Bethlehem Middle School understand so well that no child should go hungry. This cow and chickens will provide milk and eggs for the students of our Busoga school. For most of the children, this meal will be the best meal of their day. For so many, it may be the only meal they will receive.”
This coin drive has been an ongoing annual event that in previous years has helped the Giving Circle to build an orphanage, purchase school desks and plant a fruit orchard of more than 200 trees.
The children of BCMS really are making a global difference!
The writer is a teacher at Bethlehem Central Middle School.