Dec. 10, 2004
hard to imagine how one individual can have an impact on the
lives of children living more than a thousand miles away,
in one of the poorest countries in Central America. But Megan
Wunsch, daughter of Randy and Kelly Wunsch of Garner,
Iowa, made a big impression on youth living in Mulukuku, Nicaragua.
That's because Wunsch single-handedly raised enough money
to build a one-room schoolhouse in this rural village located
in the center of Nicaragua, roughly 150 miles northeast of
Wunsch, a sophomore
graphic arts major at Morningside College and a 2003 graduate
of Garner Hayfield High School, will be making the trip to
Nicaragua on Dec. 20 to see first-hand the results of her
fundraising efforts and to meet the 52 students who now attend
the school. She will also deliver some much needed school
supplies to each of the students.
Wunsch was inspired
to action in 1999 while a sophomore at Garner Hayfield High
School. While attending a National Catholic Youth Conference
in St. Louis she heard Craig Kielburger speak about the plights
of children in third world countries who were forced into
child labor. In 1995 at the age of 12, Kielburger organized
Free the Children, an international, non-profit network of
children helping children. The organization has since raised
millions of dollars to free children from poverty and exploitation.
After that conference,
Wunsch began her own campaign to raise funds for the organization.
After four years of hosting junior high dances, giving speeches,
and saving her own money, she had raised $3,600 - mostly in
spare change or small donations of $5 or $10. But it was enough
to pay for construction of a simple, one-room schoolhouse
in Mulukuku, a city of 3,000 people where electricity or running
water is rare or non-existent and barely one-half of all children
reach grade five.
"I wanted the money
to be for a school. Most of the children are from poor farming
families. The farmers raise coffee, tobacco, or sugar and
only make the equivalent of about one U.S. dollar a day,"
Another group involved
with Free the Children donated $400 to the project so Wunsch's
schoolhouse was able to get a concrete floor, something that
wasn't originally planned. Wunsch also purchased and will
personally deliver backpacks filled with supplies such as
crayons, pencils, erasers, and rulers for each of the students.
In addition to touring
the school and surrounding area during her ten-day stay, Wunsch
will travel to Ocotal for the Christmas holiday and then on
to Leon and Managua before she returns to the United States.
For Wunsch, the trip
to Nicaragua isn't the end of the story. She has already raised
more than $700 of the $900 needed to pay a teacher's salary
at the school for one year.
"I'm thrilled that
I am able to make a difference in the world, even if it's
through one small school in a poor country," said Wunsch.