Howard County nonprofit a champion for students in rural Africa [Ellicott City]

According to Google, the distance between Ellicott City and the village of Wamunyu in Kenya is 7,569 miles.

According to Google, the distance between Ellicott City and the village of Wamunyu in Kenya is 7,569 miles.

Thanks to Kenya Connect, a nonprofit organization that established a link between American students, teachers and resources to benefit the rural Kenyan village school children, the locations are now closer than ever.

What started as a student pen-pal program over 15 years ago has grown into a multi-faceted education and health program that gives students and teachers who live in rural villages the tools and exposure to education with an emphases on the high-tech learning.

To that end, the Elkridge-based organization has championed the installation of water tanks and hand-washing stations, construction of a solar powered Learning Resource Center that houses 28 computers and a library, STEAM technology classes in coding, 3-D printing, animation and video games, teacher professional development workshops led by visiting U.S. teachers, the purchase of a bus to transport children from remote villages to school centers and the distribution of SunKing Pico solar lights to allow students to read and study in their homes.

In January, a new library card program was launched – a first for village students. It is the only library in a 60-mile radius where kids can borrow books. The program was brought to fruition with the help of $6,000 raised by St. John’s Parish Day School’Walk for Wamunyu fundraiser.

“We’ve had over 40 people from Howard County travel with us to teach in our classrooms and to assist with our health programs including Jean Boone, Howard County librarian, Jean Boone, who has been assisting us in our library program,” wrote Sharon Runge, Kenya Connect executive director.

On Saturday, March 24, Kenya Connect invites the community to participate in its fourth annual Kenya Connect 5K race and walk fundraiser held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

The Kenyan Embassy Deputy Minister David Gacheru will kick-off the event at 9 a.m. The race course winds through the Dunloggin neighborhood and finishes back at the church. The deputy minister will award hand-carved medallions from Wamunyu to the top runners.

In addition to the 5K event, a fun run and a Kenyan crafts fair with baskets, woodcarvings, aprons and tablecloths for sale will be held on the church campus. Volunteers for the fundraiser include Centennial High School’s Helping Hand club members.

Runners/walkers can register at kenyaconnect.org. The race registration fee is $35 in advance and $40 at the door. The first 200 participants are guaranteed a T-shirt.

It’s showtime at Mt. Hebron High School theater department. Performances of the school’s spring musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” are 7 p.m on Saturday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 21 through Saturday, March 24. One matinee show is scheduled for March 18 at 2 p.m.

Directed by Tom Sankey, the 70 member cast is led by Nick Brogan (Joseph), Nathan Weeks, Ian Luk, Joe Nolan, Kaegan Stottlemyer, Josh Leach, Daniel Niezelski, Jake Scarbath, Andrew Barrett, Max Nzone, Nick Jackson and David Hopkins (as Joseph’s brothers), Asher Ruck (Jacob) and Zach Wilhelm (The Pharaoh). The story is narrated by Krista Schumm, Megan Holtzman, Nina St. Hillaire and Samantha Yakaitis.

Featured in the production are actors Haley Miller, Olivia Gainey, Megan Reese, Sam Nitkin, Danielle Wendt and Leah Reineck, along with 50 local elementary and middle school students who form the children’s choir.

The creative team includes Chris Hettenbach (orchestra and vocals), Amanda Slatin(choreographer), Steven Barker (technical director and stage manager), Kathy Bondura (costumer), Pam Goss and Susan Ricker (pianists), Pete Johnson (set construction and design) and Kendra Chadwick, Andrea Sicoli, Jennie Hardman, Jenna Hoffman and Andrew Breazeale (lead student technicians).

Advanced tickets can be purchased in the high school cafeteria from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. during school days or reserved by calling the school office at 410-313-2880 between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Also, tickets can be purchased at the door. Mt. Hebron High School is at 9440 Old Frederick Road in Ellicott City.

On Friday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m., Glen Mar Church will hold a Good Friday service featuring a 60-member choir performing “The Crucifixion” by John Stainer. Directed by Sophie Hong, the show includes Yeri Jang (organ), Michael Dodge (tenor) and Jason Buckwalter (baritone) and Robby Burns (percussion).

Easter services are scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 1, at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. The Ellicott City church is at 4701 New Cut Road. For more information, call 410-465-4995.

The Shrine of St. Anthony is hosting a Seder Meal on Thursday, March 22 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. as a remembrance of the Last Supper Christ shared with his disciples and its connection to the Passover meal of the Old Testament. $30 per person includes the meal and program. RSVP by Thursday, March 15 by calling 410-531-2800 or online at ShrineofStAnthony.org


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