‘Angels’ from Port Angeles come to aid of African farmer
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In the “We Are the World; We Are the Children” service project at Franklin Elementary School are, clockwise from bottom left, Yau Fu, 7; Camden Thompson, 8; Gillian Wolfe and Kaiya Ochs, both 9; volunteers Elizabeth Watkins, 14, and Adam Watkins, 11; Imogen Fraser, 7; Jamie Saskowsky, 10; and Berkley Thompson, 6. —Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — “I am looking for an angel,” was parent Amy McIntyre’s appeal last week.

Using Facebook as her forum, McIntyre hoped to help a group of seven Franklin Elementary School students finish their service project titled “We Are the World; We Are the Children.”

The project, whose name was inspired by the 1985 “USA for Africa” song, has a cash element: a microloan to a farmer half a world away.

The kids are part of Franklin’s MAC — multi-age community — and have been studying Africa and agriculture with McIntyre, who’s a volunteer and mom to Franklin second-grader Imogen Fraser.

They were looking to raise $25 for a loan through Kiva.org, the microfinance organization that lends to farmers and other entrepreneurs in 73 nations.

The project is one of several “enrichment clusters” at Franklin, one McIntyre hoped to open students’ minds to the idea of sharing resources with others across the globe.

Contributions toward the microloan had been slow to come in, though.

Last week, McIntyre and the students continued their exploration of the African continent while waiting for pledges.

On Wednesday morning, one of the kids’ mothers connected them with someone they found interesting.

Ricarda Mondry, a veterinarian in Niger, is a childhood friend of Birgit Andrich of Port Angeles.

Andrich’s 10-year-old son Jamie Saskowsky is part of the Franklin group who managed to reach Mondry on the phone Wednesday — at 1 p.m. Pacific time, 10 p.m. Niger time.

The kids had questions ready: What’s the most popular food there? Beef, Mondry replied, but it’s very expensive.

What’s the biggest animal you’ve ever taken care of? An elephant, when Mondry was working in Laos.

Have you ever ridden on an animal? Yes, there are beautiful Arabian horses here, and camels.

Do you like living in Africa? Oh, yes. Mondry has dreamed of this since she was a girl.

Earlier this month, the students had learned something about agriculture from local farmer Julian LeMarche, who brought a couple of goats, Sophie and Sally, into Mrs. Stephanie Gochnour’s classroom at Franklin. The goats made a mess on the carpet, McIntyre reported. Hilarity ensued.

After further research, the children opted to fund a poultry farmer, and kept searching through Kiva’s pages. Then, on Dec. 5, South African leader Nelson Mandela died, and the students decided to dedicate their project to him.

Finally last Friday, McIntyre ended her effort to gather pledges toward the Kiva microloan. The effort drew more “angels” than she’d expected: Together, Facebook friends and Franklin kids’ folks pledged $120. Their donations will be used for a microloan for Khady, who raises chickens in Senegal. Her profile can be found at www.kiva.org/lend/644281.

“Thank you, angels,” McIntyre wrote. “This town is called Port Angeles for a reason.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 16. 2013 6:32PM
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