Connecting Park City students with the Kenyan community
On Nov. 9, Dan Zambrano, director of operations for BEACON, an organization dedicated to improving the conditions of communities in Africa, left for Kenya in order to deliver 30 school supply kits created by the students of Trailside Elementary School, along with more than 400 Crocs, 700 Adidas socks, several thousand gibits (decorations for Crocs), and school uniforms.
The supply kits were donated to Kambu Primary. "The kids got so excited when they received their kits," Zambrano said. Inside the kits, were pictures and letters from the students at Trailside who created them. Kambu Primary students wrote letters back to Trailside, in what Zambrano hopes to be the first of many communications between Kenyan and Park City students.
Zambrano’s goal for BEACON and Park City is to expand the sister school project district-wide. They have Trailside Elementary School, Ecker Hill International Middle School, McPolin Elementary School and Treasure Mountain International Middle School on board and others are considering the project.
Ecker Hill was introduced to the idea in an assembly for the sixth-graders on Thursday. Zambrano discussed what Trailside had done with the supply kits, showed the students pictures from his trips, including what a typical classroom looks like with dirt floors and no windows. An assembly was planned for the seventh-graders on Friday.
"My vision for Park City is to link this community as a whole to the community in Kenya," Zambrano’s wife, Carloyn, said. "We’re taking baby steps," Zambrano said. "We’re hoping to get through to parents with their kids."
One of BEACON’s upcoming projects is to create three education centers throughout the Kibwezi Region. "They will be small, basic, but secure buildings with the region’s first computers, as well as reference materials," he said. "We want the kids in Kenya to be able to directly communicate with the kids in Park City."
Beth Bradford, a Park City lifestyle and regional mall leaser, who accompanied Zambrano on the trip, was deeply touched by her week spent in Kenya and feels she has found her calling in helping the people there. "These people have so little, but they are the first ones to hug you and talk to you and hold your hand," she said. "I want to get the message out there about what’s going on, and what little it takes to please these children."
Bradford said her most moving moment was when they saw a little girl, about 18 months old, and her brother, about three or four years old, walking on the side of the road with no shoes on carrying muddy drinking water. "It’s such a strange dichotomy of life," she said, "from complete hopelessness to extreme beauty."
Bradford used her connection with retailers to get the Crocs and Adidas socks donated. "But when I went there, I realize that these children don’t really need shoes as much as they need clean water, health care and education," she said.
Zambrano and Bradford are united in their goal to put an end to the corruption in Kenya. "I know I can’t change my generation, but hopefully we can make an impact on this new generation," Zambrano said. "But they have to grow old enough to make a change, so we need to keep them healthy and educated."
The letters written by Kambu Primary students will be presented to Trailside within the next couple of weeks. "The letters they wrote would break your heart," Bradford said. "They wrote about their gratitude and their hope for making things better for themselves."
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.