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Bronxville Union Free School District

Seniors Help Break Poverty Cycle in Tanzania

After spending two weeks in Tanzania, Africa, last summer and volunteering at the MainSprings children’s orphanage (formerly known as the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children, or JBFC), Bronxville High School seniors Mimi Buendia, Nan Carpenter, Mac Crawford and Nicholas O’Brien were inspired to continue to effect change in the community.

“Making those children happy was a special experience and something that we don’t always have the privilege of doing,” O’Brien said. “Our time in Africa consisted of various types of service, education and bonding with the girls [in the orphanage.] We taught a math class at the primary school, learned a little Swahili and we also built a fence around a local church’s farm. When we weren’t farming or teaching, we were primarily spending time with the girls on the soccer field, basketball court or in the common area playing Jenga.”

Their work did not stop there. Over the last several weeks, the students have raised close to $10,000 for the organization and are halfway to their fundraising goal. O’Brien, who spearheaded the initiative, said the money will go toward the development of a second MainSprings campus. Founded in 2006, MainSprings provides housing, quality education and access to health care to girls, employs dozens of farmers and provides children and their families with the necessary tools to help them break the cycle of poverty.

“Housing and education are two essentials in life and with our fundraising, we are able provide more and better housing and education to the people of Tanzania,” Crawford added.

To raise money for the organization, Buendia, Carpenter and O’Brien set up a virtual brick fundraising page, while Crawford – who was deeply touched by the girls’ singing – created a GoFundMe page to raise money for MainSprings and its music program.

“My favorite part of each day at JBFC is when we would gather in the girls’ dining hall,” Crawford said. “During this time several girls would pray and sing songs. These songs were the most beautiful music I have ever heard. When I got back stateside I was inspired to help the girls of JBFC share their amazing voices, so I created a GoFundMe with YouTube videos of them singing linked to it. My goal was to help fundraise for JBFC while empowering the girls by letting their voices be heard throughout the world.”

In addition, as captains of the varsity lacrosse team, Crawford and O’Brien led a number of activities to raise money for the organization during Spring Spirit Week. During their fan game on May 7, they hosted two teachers from MainSprings and continued to raise money for their cause.

“I could tell how happy they were that even while we aren’t on campus with them in the summer, people are always working to help those children at JBFC,” O’Brien said.

For more information, visit www.mainsprings.org. To make a donation, visit https://mainsprings.salsalabs.org/bronxvirtualbricks/index.html and https://www.gofundme.com/mainsprings039-song-project.