Friday, April 4, 2008

In the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Express Staff Writer

Emily Eshman is Tanzania bound. Photo by Dana DuGan

Emily Eshman, a student at The Community School, knew she wanted to do something that was community-service oriented for her senior project. More and more senior projects, which are required to graduate from both The Community School and the Wood River High School, have a community service aspect here and in the case of The Community School, abroad.
Eshman will head to Zambia, Tanzania, on Tuesday, April 15, where she will work with Make A Difference, an international non-profit based in Ketchum and founded by Hailey native Theresa Grant. Make A Difference works with orphaned children in Africa, and now in India, through education, job skill training and health programs.
Eshman has a particular project to complete while in Tanzania. She will help build and supply a library during her two-week volunteer trip.
Eshman is student body president at The Community School, and as such attends the school’s board of directors’ meetings. As a graduation gift, the board donated slightly more than $1,000 to help build up the library at the Tanzania orphanage.
“It’s a tradition to give a gift to the senior body president,” Eshman said. “I’ll be doing a combination of building and using some of the money to purchase books for the school textbooks. Theresa likes to buy them locally to support the local businesses. So we’ll purchase them there. The kids are taking final exams right now so when I get there, they’ll be on holiday. I’ll tutor and help with reading.”
Last year Ketchum resident John Lloyd built a small bookcase for the Make A Difference orphanage in Tanzania. He taught the older children at the orphanage about construction as part of Make A Difference’s job-skills training program.
“Make A Difference strives to build libraries and make sure they are being used by children who normally wouldn’t get a chance to read,” Grant said. “Emily is extremely valuable to us because she isn’t just working on a library, she’ll make sure that it will be used. I can’t tell you how many organizations build up libraries but never follow up to make sure books are being read. We want to be an exception to that norm. Literacy is too important to ignore.”
After Eshman returns from her trip to Tanzania, she will create a photo exhibit about her work at The Community School in May. She will also make a presentation about her work during The Community School’s senior project presentation week beginning May 12. The presentation will be free and open to the public.
Eshman will attend Duke University in North Carolina beginning this fall.

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