In their social studies class, sixth grade students studied the history of Africa, from ancient times to the present. During the course of this study, the students learned about many of the social, political and economic problems facing Africa today, such as HIV/AIDS, war, famine, lack of health care, poor education and lack of government stability. The students decided they wanted to do service-learning projects addressing some of these problems. After much discussion, the students decided to break into groups to focus on specific problems that impact children in Africa.
The students began by inviting a guest speaker from the Chikumbuso project to share information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia. They watched a documentary film on children in Uganda being abducted and forced to become child soldiers. They read books, newspaper articles and searched the Internet to learn about the on-going genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. After compiling their research, the students decided to raise money for grassroots organizations working in Africa on these issues.
Student-led fundraising efforts included a car wash, sixth grade school lock-in, and a father-daughter mother-son dance. Based on their research, the students chose to send the money to the Invisible Children Project, the Chikumbuso Project and the Save Darfur Coalition. At each fundraiser, the students showed an educational slide show they created with information on Africa and the problems they had researched. They also circulated petitions and sent letters to national and international leaders calling on them to take more action against the problems facing Africa today. Throughout their project the students had numerous local and international partners including landscapers, Save the Children of Darfur, and UNICEF.