Resa O’Reilly, Project Promise founder and president, presented administrators from St. Paul’s Primary School in South Africa with a check for almost $10,000 to educate 30 of the school’s students for one year. Project Promise board members, staff, students, volunteers and the St. Croix community raised the funds to help the students earlier this year after a call from O’Reilly to sponsor an entire class at the school.
In February, O’Reilly traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, on a service trip to help children in need. During her trip, she worked with a class of primary age students, and she grew close to them. Many of the Grade R1 students, who live in poverty, travel several hours daily to get to school. Their parents pay for transportation and struggle to pay the annual tuition, which is roughly $345 in US dollars, for a public education.
“I fell in love with the country and the children that I worked with,” said O’Reilly. “I knew there was more I could do to help.”
Initially, her plan was to sponsor two children, but once she returned to St. Croix, O’Reilly decided to raise money to sponsor the entire class. The support from the St. Croix community was overwhelming and Project Promise staff and volunteers collected more than $8,000. As part of their monthly community service initiative, students from Project Promise’s Caterpillar Project raised more than $1,000, which will educate three children.
July 18 marked Nelson Mandela International Day and the centenary of his birth. This year’s theme is Action Against Poverty, and it is in this spirit that Project Promise made the donation. The money raised will sponsor all the students in the class O’Reilly worked with, plus five additional students. While in Cape Town, O’Reilly also delivered a presentation on empowerment to a group of girls in a neighboring township.
The Grade R1 students come from the surrounding townships of Langa, Gugulethu, Khatalitsha, Makaza and Delft.
For more information about The Caterpillar Project or other Project Promise programs, contact Resa O’Reilly at 244-3242. Project Promise is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth on St. Croix by providing empowerment initiatives, cultural programs and family services. To learn more about Project Promise, visit the website at www.projectpromisevi.com