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EDHS’s Rotary Interact club hosts annual pasta dinner fundraiser for Maforeka



by Adam Gault

The Rotary Interact Club held its annual pasta dinner fundraiser at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) on Monday evening to raise funds for the Essex District High School’s (EDHS) sister school in Maforeka.

Eight years ago, EDHS and its feeder schools helped fund and construct a school in the western African nation of Sierra Leone.

Dozens of patrons packed the Legion’s dining hall in support of the event. Attendees enjoying a fresh pasta and salad dinner, and, more importantly, they showed support to a school in a developing nation to ensure students a world away are afforded the same opportunities that they themselves receive here at home.

“We try to help them, support them, raise money that we can send over to them so they can use it for the stuff that they need,” EDHS Rotary Interact Club Member, Vanessa Gualdieri, said. “We just like giving back to them, and knowing that we’re making a difference here in Essex, that we can make a difference there in their lives.”

Retired EDHS teacher, and Rotary Interact Club Coordinator, John Garinger, was instrumental in the founding process of the African school, as well as maintaining the continued support for its ongoing upgrades. He also provides live updates to the Rotary Interact Club from the students of Maforeka themselves.

“[Garinger] talks to one family in particular, and he is very close with them, and will support and do anything for them,” fellow Rotary Interact Club Member, and grade 12 student, Finnley McElwain said. “Which is very touching and very rewarding. That’s why we do this.”

The EDHS Rotary Interact Club also supports the school throughout the year, with other various charitable initiatives, including bake sales, car washes, and a flea market.

“We’re trying to put together a fundraiser dance for this year,” McElwain said of a new idea to support Maforeka. “We would have it at the high school before the end of the year.”

Through the continued efforts of the EDHS Rotary Interact Club, Maforeka and the surrounding village continue to experience infrastructural improvements, with additional wells and houses being constructed at this time.

McElwain said one of the families EDHS supports just got a new house. “They just got a new roof on it. It’s our biggest project with them right now.”

If Monday’s turnout of the pasta dinner is any indication, Maforeka is in good hands for the foreseeable future as many new faces filled the dining hall, eager to lend their support for the noble cause.

“Our club has grown this year,” Gualdieri explained. “This is a good turnout. It’s good to get the community involved and see that they come and will make a change in the lives of people in Africa.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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