Nipissing Education students Julie and Andrea Kocsis are out to change the world, and are already making a big difference in the lives of Kenyan girls by helping them achieve an education.
The two sisters, originally from Anton Mills, have launched Power Ed International Foundation, a non-profit organization that sponsors Kenyan girls to go to school and provides a lunch program.
The roots of the foundation were planted when Andrea and Julie travelled to Kenya last year as part of the Students for Development Internship offered through Nipissing University. The trip was literally a dream come true; the sisters had been intent on getting to Kenya since grade 7, when a teacher inspired them with a lesson on global vision.
While in Kenya, the sisters noticed that many girls were unable to attend school due to a lack of money. Though elementary school is free in Kenya, High School costs $350, as students must pay to take the exams that allow them to advance, as well as a uniform and supplies.
“I became close friends with one particular family in Kenya,” recalls Andrea. “They have a 16 year old daughter who wants to become a journalist. For that to happen, her dad had to sell all his chickens to raise the money. That level of sacrifice really inspired me, and when I told Julie about it, we decided that we’d provide the necessary $350 to send her little sister to school too.”
The sisters told their story on their blog and some followers were similarly inspired to help by sponsoring girls to attend school.
Meanwhile, the Kocsis sisters toured an impoverished elementary school and asked the school director what she needed to help her students. The answer was lunch for every child, as she was unsure whether they would eat otherwise.
A light bulb went off and Julie and Andrea realized they had an opportunity to make a difference.
“We both believe in the power of education to eliminate poverty and we want to give kids the tools they need to make change,” said Julie.
Returning to Canada, they immediately set to work establishing Power Ed International, creating a mission, establishing goals and objectives, building a board and applying to the government for not-for-profit status.
Recently, the sisters gave a presentation about their trip and Power Ed International at Nipissing that caught the attention of Dr. Harley d’Entremont, vice-president, academic and research.
“They are making a significant difference and improving the lives of others, thanks in part, to an opportunity presented through Nipissing’s international office,” he said. “My wife and I were moved by what Julie and Andrea had done and wanted to help. We made a personal donation to send a Kenyan girl to school and I hope that many others will support them in this wonderful initiative.”
Some food for thought:
For more information on Power Ed International, and to donate, click here.
- The cost of one small Tim Horton’s coffee every day for a year is equivalent to sending a girl to go to school for a year in Kenya
- The cost of one manicure every month is equal to the cost of sponsoring a girl to go to school for half a school year, including uniform and school supplies
- A $100 donation will feed all the children at Okana Public School in Kenya for one month
- For $30 a month, you can sponsor a girl to go to school in Kenya
- A $10 donation can sponsor a child to receive lunch at Okana Public School for one year
The SFD Internship program was undertaken with financial support of the government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).