Members of Great Bend High School’s Student Ambassadors may be wondering how they’ll pay for college in the near future, although they know they have options. So, when they heard that some teenagers in other countries can’t afford to attend high school, they wanted to help.
This month the Student Ambassadors hope to sell 1,000 handmade bracelets as a service project. If they meet their goal, Millicent Shumba, a teenage dropout in Zimbabwe, will have her high school tuition paid for a year.
“These bracelets are unique,” said Heaven Yager. Yuda Bands (www.yudabands.org) are handmade leather and carved coconut bracelets that sell for $7 each. A portion of the cost goes to pay wages to the people who make them, and $2.50 from each sale directly benefits an international student by paying for tuition and school fees, books and uniforms and more.
“We don’t get any profit from this,” said Rossiel Reyes, another GBHS Student Ambassador. While some students have commented that the simple bracelets are “too expensive,” the ambassadors are trying to explain the Yuda Band mission: “Wear a band, change a life.”
“Obviously we hope everyone likes their bands,” Reyes said. “It’s helping someone go to school.”
“The average person in Zimbabwe makes less than $3 a day,” Yager said.
The Yuda Band organization sent the profiles of seven students.
“We all read their stories and chose who we wanted to support,” Reyes said.
“They were all really good stories,” said Gentry Schneider, another Student Ambassador. Shuma’s was “unforgettable,” she added.
Shumba dropped out of high school because her parents couldn’t afford to pay the fees.
“Her dad doesn’t think she should go to school because she’s a girl,” Yager said.
In her profile story, Shumba writes, “My father is self-employed and does not make enough money and the situation is made worse by his attitude toward the girl child. I appreciate financial assistance to go back to school and I promise to work hard and succeed.”
“Her goal when she grows up is to be a policewoman,” Reyes said. “We could study and do that, over here ...”
“ ... we complain because we can’t afford to go to college,” Yager said.
Student Ambassadors were waiting for their first shipment of bracelets this week and also hoped to talk to Shumba face to face via Skype. Meanwhile, they were making a list of upcoming events and locations where they could sell the bracelets. Student Ambassador Lindsay Newman noted they’ll be at the school play this Saturday and Sunday, and in the lunchroom on school days.
“It would be great to have the whole community participate and know they are helping this girl,” Reyes said.
“We will be at all Great Bend Middle School and Great Bend High School events,” Schneider said.
Anyone from the public who wishes to purchase bracelets can contact the GBHS Student Ambassadors’ faculty sponsor, Kathy Davis at the high school. Her email address is email@example.com.