The 2015 Maji Safi Read-a-thon

A Win-Win Situation

Second grader Lauren Ridgway

Second grader Lauren Ridgway

For the third year in a row, Maji Safi Group teamed up with the Wildcat Student Council and students at Whittier International School in Boulder to run our annual Maji Safi Read-a-thon – and what a success! The Read-a-thon is truly a win-win situation. The students find sponsors who pay them for reading books at their current literacy level, so the children greatly improve their reading skills, and the money helps Maji Safi Group run its on-the-ground programs in the remote and impoverished area of Shirati, Tanzania. In addition, the project helps children grow up with a sense of social responsibility and the desire to help those in need through personal effort. We call them Maji Safi Group’s ‘Young Global Citizens’. With support from Whittier’s principal, Sarah Oswick, and the teachers, the annual Maji Safi Read-a-thon is becoming an increasingly popular Whittier tradition with both students and parents.

Once I watched the video about how kids in rural Tanzania have to miss school sometimes to gather water, which often isn’t even clean, I knew I wanted to do something to help out. I love to read and was really happy to raise money for the Maji Safi Group to support the work they do.
— Logan S., 2nd grade

Whittier International School

Since 1882, Whittier has provided quality education to the children in the heart of Boulder. With its International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, it has an international focus and serves students from more than 20 countries. Led by former Whittier teacher John LeClair and kindergarten teacher Megan Proctor, the Wildcat Student Council is a force to be reckoned with.

Every other Wednesday at 7:15 a.m., the students meet to tirelessly pursue their four goals:

  1. Take action in the world to help people in other countries.
  2. Take action in our community to help others who live in the Whittier community and the City of Boulder.
  3. Take action to help save endangered animals and their habitats.
  4. Take action in our school and inspire a feeling of community and happiness.

For the 2015 Maji Safi Read-a-thon, Student Council members debated, voted, made posters, made announcement on the school speakers, and read books to pursue their first goal with gusto.

This Read-a-thon really got Alakai encouraged to read to and for us. 

– Parent-Amber Garst

John LeClair

John LeClair and Bruce Pelz at Halloween in 1994.

John LeClair and Bruce Pelz at Halloween in 1994.

John LeClair is an amazing educator who taught elementary school students academic skills, personal and social responsibility, and a love of life, literature, music and art at a level I wish all children would have the chance to experience at an early age. Bruce Pelz, co-founder of Maji Safi Group, had John LeClair in first and second grade. For years, John enthralled his students on a daily basis, not least at Halloween when he came up with amazing costumes to entertain his students. Now retired, John LeClair continues to run Homework Club and Student Council at Whittier on a volunteer basis. A true giver with a huge heart – always has been, always will be.



The Results

This year was the most successful Read-a-thon ever at Whittier in terms of participation, books read, and money raised. The reading logs were abundant, and the sponsors were generous!

Participants: 58
Books read: 750
Money raised: $5,191.60
Most books read by one student: 98 (kindergarten)
Most pages read by one student: 4,790 (fourth grade)

Reading log

Reading log

It is worth noticing that we have two kinds of sponsors. Most students find personal sponsors – typically, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, neighbors – but we also have our ‘outside sponsors’ who sponsor the readers as a group, paying them a certain amount of money per book. This component especially benefits children who want to help, but are not in a position to find personal sponsors. This year, ‘outside sponsors’ opened their wallets with $2 per book and thus contributed $1,500 of the $5,191.60 raised.

Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity to help!
-Parent-Kirstin Jahn

Honoring the Students

The week of May 15, all Maji Safi Read-a-thon participants were honored at an all-school assembly, and each students received a certificate along with a coupon for a free ice cream cone donated by Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.

Our After School Program in Shirati

In Shirati, Maji Safi Group’s Community Health Workers provide Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) education to schoolchildren in our After School Program. Since July 2012, MSG has partnered with nine schools and has directly taught 1,000 children about disease prevention, while also allowing them to have a creative, fun experience. By learning how to properly care for their own health, students stay healthy, remain in school, and can therefore achieve their full potential. Using the students’ creative, artistic, and critical thinking skills, Community Health Workers teach disease prevention education about waterborne and water-related diseases, proper water treatment, sanitation, hygiene practices, and the fecal-oral disease cycle. MSG also donates hand-washing stations and ceramic drinking water filters to enable proper WASH techniques at the schools. Finally, as a reminder of the lessons learned, a local artist paints a WASH-related mural to teach future students about proper disease prevention. Recently, we received approval from the District Education Office to operate the After School Program in all 125 primary schools in the Rorya District.

Thank you Read-a-thon participants for your support!

Thank you Read-a-thon participants for your support!

I had such a great time doing the Maji Safi Read-a-thon at my school! It was such a cool experience! I read so many fascinating, captivating books while I knew all the money would go to the charity! I think the charity is an amazing cause that is more urgent than we think! It felt so good to know I was part of helping an organization that really made a difference in so many people’s lives! Because water is SO important, and it is really vital that it is clean and people are educated about hygiene and being sanitary! The Whittier Maji Safi Read-a-thon is such an amazing, caring thing, and I would like to thank the people that made it happen.

— Sydney F., 4th grade 

It costs approximately $15,000 per year to run Maji Safi Group’s After School Program, so the Whittier students just enabled hundreds of children on the other side of the globe to learn how to stay healthy and have a better chance of succeeding in school!

Young Global Citizens

Third graders Amanda Kohla and Calder Leland

Third graders Amanda Kohla and Calder Leland

It is our goal to expand our ‘Young Global Citizen’ program in Colorado. So far, we have worked with students at Whittier International School, Casey Middle School, Alexander Dawson School, Fairview High School, and CSU. We are currently working on connecting with other schools, including offering practicum opportunities for CU and DU students. In addition, we intend to add extracurricular activities, especially art classes and the opportunity for Boulder youth to help create learning materials for the children in Shirati.

To participate in our ‘Young Global Citizen’ program as a school or on an individual basis, please contact [email protected]. You may also do a Read-a-thon on an individual basis; we will gladly provide a reading log, a sponsor sheet and a presentation (PDF format) about the children and Maji Safi Group’s work in Shirati. It would be the perfect way to keep your children reading over the summer!

Thank You for Making a Difference
A huge thank you to everybody who participated in and supported the 2015 Maji Safi Read-a-thon: students, parents, sponsors, teachers, volunteers, etc. Thanks to your support, the people in the rural community of Shirati can continue to improve their public health situation and learn how to be healthy to reach their full academic potential!

Martina loved reading the books and participating in the Read-a-thon. Thanks for having it.
-Parent-Arsen Kashkashian