Westwood High School students have teamed up with Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire and Halo Publishing International to release their first children’s book, “Bakuru and the School on the Hill.“ The book is a collaborative effort of writing and illustrations between about 30 students, alumni and teachers, along with a forward by Dallaire. The hope is that this book will raise awareness and funds for the Bridge to Burundi, a six-year project where students have been helping a small African village break the cycle of poverty.
The book takes the reader through the eyes of a young girl named Baruru who shows the history and culture of the Burundi school and how education changes the poverty cycle.
“We wanted to tie in global issues and human rights so the book would have a message,” says Nancy Koluzs, who headed up the book project through the school’s Literacy Project program. She’s also a major contributor to the Bridge to Burundi Project.
The idea to write a children’s book started after Halo author Valerie Redmond contacted Koluzs to get involved with the school’s literacy program. Halo Publisher Lisa M. Umina found out about the book project and wanted to help.
“I love giving back,” says Halo Publisher Lisa M. Umina. “Helping students by publishing a book to raise awareness and funds for global issues just made sense to me.”
Westwood teachers say the book will do more than just raise funds and awareness about the Bridge to Burundi Project.
“We believe this book will inspire kids to become active global citizens,” says Peter Nield, another teacher involved with the Bridge to Burundi. “No matter how small your efforts are, we teach students at Westwood that they can have a global impact.”
You can purchase “Bakuru and the School on the Hill” at Amazon. Funds raised will go toward the Bridge to Burundi Project.
The Bridge to Burundi Project started in October 2009 by students at Westwood High School as part of their annual Student Life camp. Westwood teacher and native Burundian Jean-Claude Manirakiza gave a presentation to the students on the state of education in his home country. Roused by the story of his life, the students decided to build an elementary school in Rwoga, Burundi. Eight months later, the first classroom opened to 60 first graders. Since then, another ten classrooms have been built, offering free education and supplies to more than 400 students. In addition, the students have raised more than $100,000 to build a medical centre, convenience store, and drinkable water to the village.