By Ashley Lodato
After waiting patiently for eight months and after getting what she describes as “a million shots,” 10th-grader Ella Hall got to cash in on the Christmas gift her grandmother gave her last year.
Ella’s grandmother, Janice Hall, is the founder of Grandmothers’ Education Fund Africa (GEFA), which began as an attempt to establish an elementary school in Nakuru, Kenya (northwest of Nairobi) in 1999. With the AIDS epidemic wiping out a generation of people, vast numbers of children are orphaned or left to be raised by grandmothers, who are already under severe financial strain. GEFA helps children get an education in order to improve the prospects for themselves and their families.
Last Christmas, Ella’s grandmother wrote her a letter and had her read it aloud, at which point Ella realized that she was going to get the chance to travel to Kenya with her grandmother and aunt to visit some of the 150 children sponsored by GEFA in village schools. Ella’s main objective was to interview and photograph the GEFA-sponsored children in the schools, so that information could be conveyed to their American sponsors at home.
She also brought the children books, school supplies and soccer balls. Ella reports that her host family in Africa was incredibly welcoming and fed her the typical Kenyan diet of beans, rice and potatoes. Toward the end of the trip, Ella got to go on a safari, where she saw giraffes, rhinos, zebras, wart hogs and other native African animals.
News from other African countries comes by way of Liv and Peter Aspholm and Keeley Brooks, who are organizing a music recital to benefit the youth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The “Kids for Congo” recital will take place on Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. at Methow Valley United Methodist Church. Admission is by donation and all proceeds will help pay for school fees and uniforms for the students at the Peniel House orphanage and school in Lubumbashi.
This segues us smoothly into music news and the announcement that the Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band brought the sounds of western music to the ground-breaking ceremony for the Tacoma Art Museum’s new wing, which will house the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art.
Slated to open next fall, the 16,000-square-foot new wing will showcase 280 pieces of western American art ranging from Frederic Remington to Georgia O’Keefe, all donated by the Haubs (as in the Sun Mountain Lodge Haubs). The ladies of Horse Crazy treated the guests to some hot western swing and good old fashioned yodeling, and then granted Gov. Jay Inslee’s request for a photo of himself with the band.