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Building a School and a Better Future in Togo

Building a school and a better future.

A long-time Plan International USA sponsor, Christy Burke was well aware of the difference she could make in the lives of children around the world. But, over the last three years, she’s been blown away by the even greater impact that a group of individuals could have on the lives of children.

In 2011, Burke set wheels in motion to build a fully-functioning school in a small village in Togo. Three years later, her dream has been fully realized.

“It makes me smile to think of the children …sitting in the school learning their lessons in a clean, sturdy building with a hygienic latrine to use and clean drinking water from the new well,” she said. “And I was a part of making that happen, along with many of my friends and many people I don’t even know. I’m not a billionaire, and neither are my friends, but we gave what we could and the result was awesome.”

Over the years, Burke has had the opportunity to visit sponsored children in both Vietnam and Tanzania.

“Reading about all the great things Plan does is one thing, but it’s such a richer experience to witness Plan’s impact first hand,” she said. “…And to meet the people, especially the children, is one of the most incredible opportunities I can imagine.”

It was a visit to Togo in 2012 that gave her the idea to build a school.

Burke realized the dire need for a place to learn while visiting a small village there.

“I was told that during the rainy season, the ground would flood and there would be no school at all,” she said. “This project drew me to it because of the obvious enthusiasm of the people and their clear desire to have a better learning environment for their children.”

Burke returned to the States with a mission.

“I spoke with my contacts at Plan about making a difference in the community, and we decided upon the [village school project],” she said. “I gave enough to [get] the process going, but then Plan reached out globally and I reached out within my circle.”

Burke’s friends were excited to help. One friend was directing a play in New York City and asked for donations for the Plan school project following the show. Even children helped the cause. A client’s son raised money for the project at his piano recital and in school.

“Little by little, we all made it happen,” she said.

Burke was especially proud that the project would eventually contribute to educating a community. In particular, girls who might not otherwise have the chance to learn were given the opportunity.

Just one extra year of primary school for a girl can mean 10-20 percent higher wages, and when a girl in the developing world stays in school for seven or more years, she’ll marry later and have fewer, healthier children.

“The more a girl learns, the more she develops her mind, and the more she can do with that knowledge,” Burke said. “If she becomes a teacher, a businesswoman, a mother, a grandmother, she will undoubtedly benefit herself and the community at large.”

“Plan is an amazing organization and I have always been impressed with the people I have met and programs I have seen,” she added.

Over the past three years, educating a small village in Togo became a reality. Read next month’s issue to learn how another long-time Plan sponsor helped make it happen!

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