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Fulbright Scholar shares his gratitude

Published: July 9, 2017 12:00 AM

I'd like to share with the Tallmadge community my gratitude and admiration for a inspiring group of amazing Tallmadge Middle School Students and one of their teachers, Mr. Chad Nash. Over the past year, I have been living in Cameroon as a Fulbright Scholar teaching anthropology research methods at the University of Yaounde. Shortly before my departure, Tallmadge Middle School student Rachel Prior reached out to me in search of a way to reach across the ocean to connect with young Africans. As the founder and Executive Director of African Sky, a non-profit created in Summit County, I embraced the idea of partnering with Rachel. Then, when she discussed this idea with Mr. Nash, a project was born. The TMS Builders group takes on a whole portfolio of local projects from helping the city paint fire hydrants, to assisting seniors, and more. But last fall, they created an African Sky team to partner with me on a Cameroon project. Four additional students joined Rachel and Mr. Nash to create this extraordinary team of global citizens: Emma Ryder, Olivia Oblak, Anna Siesel, and Kaine Koerner.

Over the past year, I met with the TMS Builders over weekly Skype discussions, and with their leadership and vision, we created a project that has been one of the brightest experiences of my year in Cameroon. We discussed a number of possible project ideas, and then the group decided to help an orphanage in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.

Immediately, I set out to do some legwork here in Yaounde, and back in Tallmadge, the Builders organized fundraisers including collaborations with the Lions Club, The Firehouse Restaurant, and Danny Boys Restaurant. They also ran a concession stand at school track meets. In all, they raised $2000 for the orphanage. One of the highlights of our year together happened this a few months ago when I brought my iPad to the orphanage so the Builders could meet face-to-face with their new Cameroonian friends, who then gave the TMS group a virtual tour of the orphanage.

Following that Skype visit, the Builders decided to use their funds to deliver two major donations for the orphanage.

First, we used some of the money to purchase "hygiene kits" for each of the 52 children living at the orphanage. The kits included soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, mosquito nets, pillows, and much more (including some fun stuff like colored pencils and some chocolate treats). Then with the remaining funds we hired an electrician to rewire the entire orphanage and to install high efficiency lightening inside and out. We even had a little money left over, which allowed us to repair the front gate to the facility. Every time I return to visit with the children, I see the profound impact of the TMS project. So, on behalf of the 52 orphans and the orphanage staff, I'd like to thank TMS Builders, Mr. Nash, and the entire Tallmadge community for the kindness they shared with us over the past year.

Scott M. Lacy,

Yaounde, Cameroon


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