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Saint Mary’s Community marches in solidarity with Ghana students

| Thursday, October 11, 2018

Saint Mary’s students and staff gathered on Wednesday to walk a mile in solidarity with the Holy Cross community in Ghana. The Saint Mary’s Community did not let the rain drown out its joy as its gathered in the rain-out location Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex to walk 10 laps around the track. The original plan was to walk through the nature reserve on campus.

Julie Schroeder-Biek, the director of athletics and a member of the planning committee, said in an email that the Sisters were her motivation to help plan this event.

“The Sisters do such wonderful work,” she said. “I enjoy doing what I can to support their missions.”

Other attendees had different reasons for showing up to walk: They said they were moved not just by the Sisters, but also the students in Ghana.

Sophomore Mia Williams said her motivation for participating was “to stand in solidarity with the kids who have to walk long miles to school.”

“We came because it seemed like a great way to support the Sisters and the Holy Cross community,” Saint Mary’s campus minister Jessica Kimmet said. “I am an employee here and this was a good opportunity for [my son] to think about and be exposed to ways that he might help children in other places of the world, and he really likes buses.”

Some participants came out of moral obligation.

“I decided that I haven’t donated my time and energy to anything for a while this sounded like a good opportunity for that,” sophomore Regina Novy said.

Others had less altruistic motives.

“I just came for the exercise,” sophomore Theresa Bridge said.

A handout written by Daniel Flowers, the assistant director of development for the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, says that the fundraiser hopes to raise enough money to help provide transportation to Our Lady of Holy Cross School in Kasoa, Ghana. The school is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

“The school currently has six buses for nearly 1,000 students with five buses owned by the school and one rented,” Flowers wrote. “Enrollment at the school has doubled over the last five years, leaving some students without access to bus transportation.”

The document says that the bus would help to improve attendance, academic success and safety by eliminating the need for students to walk long distances or ride on dangerous commercial forms of transportation including motorbikes.

The walk has the moral goals of bettering lives for students in Ghana. It also has very defined financial goals.

“Through our communities coming together, we hope to raise enough money to purchase a bus for the school – $63,000,” Schroeder- Biek said. “If we can raise $31,500, we have an incredibly generous and anonymous donor that will match that.”

The walk is an effort to show solidarity with the struggle of these children to try and experience a little of what they experience every day. To show this solidarity, each person participating in the walk will represent one of the students.

“Each walker will wear the name tag of one of the children from Our Lady of Holy Cross School (OLHCS),” Schroeder-Biek said. “We will walk for that child.”

Many attendants were excited to the attendees’ dedication to the Saint Mary’s community abroad.

“It’s really exciting to see the response,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The Sisters shared the need for a new school bus and our community — the College, the Convent and the students — are responding. It is energizing to witness the unity, generosity, care and concern of our community.”

The walk contributed to the Saint Mary’s community since it is a small way to connect the Holy Cross community here and abroad. It also offers a chance for communicate with people they might not otherwise.

“It strengthens the bond between the Convent and the College by joining together,” Schroeder-Biek said. “We have faculty, staff, students, Sisters and convent staff that are registered to walk together in solidarity for these children.”

Besides gaining the opportunity to walk with people that they do not always have the change to, Schroeder-Biek also said that students will gain a lot from being a part of this event including, “a sense of community and the recognition of the day to day struggles the students we are walking for face in just trying to get to school.”

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