Tuc-el-Nuit students help poor orphans

Tuc-el-Nuit students help poor orphans

Erica Safek’s class from Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary School presents Jeff Crowley with a cheque for nearly $1,000 to buy blankets, soccer balls and first aid kits for orphans in Moldova. The money will also help build a “survival” house for teenage girls. (Lyonel Doherty photo)

A group of Tuc-el-Nuit students is making a big difference for some extremely poor children on the other side of the world.

Erica Safek’s class has raised nearly $1,000 to help Transnistria orphans in Moldova.

Through “penny jars” and a bake sale, the inspired pupils raised enough money to buy soccer balls, blankets and first aid kids for orphanages. In addition, they will put $500 towards building a home for teenage girls (who are left homeless after they leave their orphanage).

Tuc-el-Nuit student Sofia Shpak said it makes her feel really good to help these poor kids. She noted there are not enough chairs in the orphanage, so the older kids push the younger kids off of them.

Fellow student Colton Caverly said once the children reach the age of 17, they have to leave the orphanage and fend for themselves.

“Transnistria is so poor, it’s really sad because a lot of the kids think their parents will come back,” Caverly said.

He noted that when orphans get a new toy, they hold it for 15 minutes because they’re so shocked at getting it.

Student Kane Hicks said imagine wearing the same clothes for a whole year. And speaking of toys and the greed that many kids have for them, these orphans don’t even know what a toy is, he said. That’s why it makes him feel good about helping them.

Fellow student Reese Smallwood said the class conducted an experiment with local philanthropist Jeff Crowley, who often visits Transnistria to help the orphans.

The students took off their shoes and opened the school doors to the outside to experience how the orphans live.

“We tried the whole day to do that; we tried to re-enact (what it would be like). We did it for about two hours,” Smallwood said.

The pupil stated that even though his family isn’t rich, “we’re really rich compared to other families.”

Student Naomi Alaric said she was horrified to hear about the orphans’ situation.

“I don’t think it’s right that people should be living like that. Everyone should have a decent meal.”

Crowley visited Safek’s class to find out what the students want to do with the money they raised. He plans to buy the soccer balls and first aid kits and deliver them to the orphans this year. He noted the house being built for the girls is 80 per cent complete. Crowley is relieved because many of the young women who leave the orphanage end up being exploited by men that he calls “predators.”

“That house will physically save lives,” he said, noting the girls will be taught how to read, write and cook. “It will essentially teach the ladies how to survive.”

Crowley said it’s great to teach the students at Tuc-el-Nuit how they can help.

“It gets the kids thinking.”

Safek said her students were completely taken aback by the plight of the orphans. She noted this “global awareness” project touches on part of the new curriculum that teaches the students social justice.

Anyone who wants to add funding to the class project can do so by contacting Safek at 250-498-3415.

By Lyonel Doherty