It was a day of celebration and humanity at Mepham High School in Bellmore last Friday as a student-organized “Night of Action” function was held in the school’s gymnasium to raise money to provide an education for underprivileged Ugandan children.
At the two-hour event, which was filled with live musical performances by Mepham students, storytelling, raffles, food and drinks, the school raised $1,650.
“Proud isn’t even the word to describe it,” said Principal Michael Harrington. “When you have students who become passionate about helping others, and come together to gain support throughout the school, and then use technology to spread the word… it’s something that you don’t see every day.”
More than 200 people attended the event, at which students Jessie Almont, Meaghan Soel, Elyssa Gershman, Sam Feldman, Gabby Brauner, Rachel Fian, Amanda Camhi, Dan Levy and Casey Veneziano read stories about Ugandan children whose lives have been altered by Joseph Kony, an Ugandan militant who has engaged in open rebellion with the Ugandan government since 1987. His militia, called the Lord’s Resistance Army, abducts children and brainwashes them to fight for his cause.
The initiative began two months ago when Almont, a Mepham junior, first learned of Kony through a YouTube video. Wanting to help, she recruited her friends, Soel and Gibbons, also juniors, and the group grew with the help of Assistant Principal Jennifer Carne and teachers Stuart Stein and Saul Montemaggiore.
In April, the students formed a partnership with Stephen Shames, a Brooklyn-based video journalist who founded the nonprofit organization, LEAD Uganda —short for Locate, Educate, Achieve and Dream. Since 2004, Shames has raised money to send roughly 120 Ugandan children to top African schools.
The Mepham students plan to raise enough money to send a Ugandan child to high school beginning this fall, and upon graduation four years later, have him or her walk on stage with the Mepham seniors at their graduation in 2016. Combined with monies already raised prior to the Night of Action, the students have raised more than $2,000 — enough to send a child to school next year.