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Africa to Youngsville | News, Sports, Jobs – timesobserver.com

Jan 23, 2023
Photo provided to the Times Observer Jon and Janet Peters presented the highlights of their trip to the students at Youngsville Elementary in an assembly Friday afternoon. Unsurprisingly, the photos of animals were quite popular.
There are times when fundraisers for international efforts can feel a million — or at least thousands — of miles away.
But students involved in a Hat Day last year at Youngsville Elementary School got to see exactly the role those funds played on the other side of the world.
Janet Peters, a fifth grade teacher at Youngsville Elementary School, along with her husband Jon held an African Assembly at the school Friday afternoon, sharing the highlights from a three-week trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
She said the hat day event raised $500 last year and that those funds were used to purchase uniforms for students at the Numwa Primary & Secondary Schools in Zimbabwe.
Additionally, a host of school supplies — pencils, notebooks, erasers, colored pencils, sharpeners and pens — were donated to be taken to the school as well.
Photo provided to the Times Observer Second graders at the Numwa Primary School with supplies donated by Youngsville area families.
“We packed full two large suitcases and half of another so we could bring it all with us,” they said.
The school was the second stop on the 20,000 mile trip.
The first was volunteering with the Imire Rhino Conservancy.
“It’s a private conservation area,” Jon told the students, with a “focus on breeding black rhinos. (It) attracts volunteers from all over the world.”
It’s structured work as Jon said they had to go out three times a day to work on various projects.
One day that included feeding rhinos, another day it included work with elephants.
Talking to the elephants was “one of the things they had us do to keep an elephant’s mind stimulated. Sometimes if they had an injury on a foot… we’d practice and tell them ‘Lift your back left foot’ and he would. That was to keep his mind sharp.”
While Jon and Janet took the trip in what is summer here, the seasons are opposite there — they visited during winter.
That caught their attention when their work took them to the Numwa schools.
“Believe it or not, most children walk to school many miles… year round,” Jon told the students. “There’s no summer vacation. Education is highly-prized, especially in Zimbabwe… math and reading but also practical skills like gardening and masonry.”
They visited both a second grade and high school classroom.
“The uniforms that the kids were wearing,” Janet said, were sweatpants and shirts. “There’s no heating in their building. It’s cold, like 50 degrees. Many of the classes didn’t have glass in the windows.”
“They were so excited to get the materials,” she said.
While the trip was heavy on volunteering, they also spent time on a couple of safaris and a cultural experience in a village.
Unsurprisingly, photos and images of rhinos and elephants and leopards were a popular part of the assembly.
It was clear though that the reactions from the students to their new school supplies are at the heart of the trip, though.
And that thanks is on display at Youngsville Elementary.
“Their first language is Shona but they’re learning English,” Janet said. “If you get a chance, in the lobby (there are) letters from the second graders. They’re wonderful. Their handwriting is so neat…. That’s from second graders that have English as a second language. It was very impressive.”
While their trip was volunteer-focused.
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