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Whitney students will head to Uganda to help build schools

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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This summer, two Whitney High students will board a plane destined for the war-torn country of Northern Uganda, Africa.
Not out of obligation, but out of choice, seniors Bryn Hobson and Elena Frink, will set out to assist and meet the students they’ve been raising funds for in the past few months at Anaka Secondary School in Northern Uganda.
Hobson and Frink’s mission to help the children of Northern Uganda began after watching a documentary by three young men traveling to Uganda – a country that’s facing a more than two-decade long war. Their documentary tells the story of children in Northern Uganda abducted at night and trained to become soldiers who kill. Since it’s release, the film spurred the start of Invisible Children clubs within schools across the U.S.
Jon Bryant, the adviser for the Invisible Children club at Whitney High School, said he shows the documentary in his geography class and finds that after seeing the film, most students ask how they can help.
“Some kids become really committed,” Bryant said.
Seniors like Hobson and Frink, who have been in the club since their freshman year. For the past few months, the club has been committed to raising funds for Schools for Schools, a nation-wide fundraiser helping the children in Uganda. The fundraiser is broken down by school region – each working toward a trip to Uganda. The school that raises the most money in each region has the option to send one student to Uganda.
Through about a dozen fundraising events, the Whitney High club raised almost $12,000 and beat out 394 other schools in the region in the race to send a student to the country. One of their fundraising events, Splash for Cash – splashing teachers with paint to raise funds – was the reason for their second win for most creative fundraising idea. That win awarded the school the ability to send another student to Uganda.
Each of the club members was welcome to apply to be the chosen two, but one of the restrictions was parent approval, Bryant said. Because of that, only 10 students applied, out of a club of approximately 100 people.
With a club vote, Frink and Hobson were chosen.
“I danced,” Frink said of the first thing she did when she heard the news.
“We just called each other and yelled on the phone,” Hobson said.
The two leave for their 24-hour flight sometime in June this summer and will meet students at Anaka Secondary School in Uganda and do some manual labor to help build and fix schools, Bryant said. But what the students are most excited for is meeting the students and children of the country and bringing back their inspiring stories.
“Sharing the experience personally is a lot more powerful,” Hobson said.
Although they both are thrilled to embark on this trip of a lifetime, one of the things that concern Frink and Hobson is the potential for the war situation in Northern Uganda to worsen. But they’re keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for the best – even if it means receiving seven to eight shots in preparation for the trip.
“We’ve seen poverty in like, Mexico, but I think it will be more drastic,” Frink said.
Frink and Hobson will make the trek with almost 20 other students from across the country in an effort to make the Invisible Children message heard.
“The kids have really felt like they can be an advocate for a kid who doesn’t have a voice,” Bryant said.
For more information on Invisible Children, go to www.invisiblechildren.com.

– Contact Lauren Weber at laurenw@goldcountrymedia.com.