Teachers give up spring break to help in Africa

March 16, 2012 2:39:53 PM PDT
Spring break is coming for many students in the Chicago area. One group of suburban teachers has decided to give up their spring break and donate their time instead.

While others may be heading to a beach, the teachers left Friday to lend a helping hand in Africa.

As they packed suitcases with supplies - these

Students and their teachers from Acacia Academy in LaGrange were hoping to bring a lot of pleasure to children in one of the poorest communities in Kenya.

"It's just unbelievable to me, just in shock and awe that I can go to someplace I've always wanted to go and be able to help people at the same time," said teaching volunteer Bryttnie Pavlicek.

It is a team of teachers and teaching assistants who are giving up their vacation time to make a difference.

"People talk about 'are you ready to give up your vacation for this?' I'd rather do this and go on a vacation and help people than go get burnt on a beach or go kill a plant in my garden," said Eric Itzenthaler.

These teachers will be working in one of Nairobi's notorious shantytown communities where schools are primitive.

The teachers are not just taking school supplies. They're taking themselves to teach the students and train the teachers there.

"Let them know somebody else does care," said Marianne Bryja. "And a lot of things were showing them are things that won't cost money."

This trip became a project that the entire school embraced. The students held a walkathon to raise money and then they were the ones who chose and provided the educational supplies that are headed to Africa.

"I'm grateful for what we have here in the USA, and also seeing, uh, you know, the children in Africa struggling to just get a clean glass of water that we take advantage of, and that's just heartbreaking," said student Tyree Holland.

The Acacia students have planned nearly a year for this to happen. Now, sending pen-pal letters to their counterparts in Nairobi.

"Love the idea of helping other people who are less fortunate," said student Alexis Bloom