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Their arrival was two years in the making, yet hundreds of textbooks collected by two Illinois Valley Community College student organizations recently arrived in the Fundong Provence of Cameroon, West Africa.
Students and faculty of IVCC’s International Club and TEACH spent more than a year collecting textbooks for middle- and high school-aged students at the Fundong Government High School, a project that was the idea of faculty adviser Amanda Cook Fesperman and former IVCC students Oliver Kah and Jacquelynn Hansen.
“Schools in Africa are often sorely underfunded,” said Cook Fesperman, who has spent time researching and traveling in Africa. “Something as simple as textbooks we take for granted here in the U.S. are very hard to come by in many of these schools, especially those in the rural areas.”
Students there often share textbooks, or learn through rote memorization, Cook Fesperman said.
Kah, who is from Fundong, but who has gained permanent residency in the United States by winning the visa lottery, gives back to his people back home by doing projects like this. He is now studying social work at Bradley University.
In 2012, Hansen, then TEACH president, worked to collect the books, and raise money to ship them. IVCC chemistry instructor Promise Yong helped ensure the books would arrive at their destination.
In addition to sending books to Fundong, the International Club along with physics instructor Dominic Sarsah has been collecting and sending college textbooks to Cape Coast University in Ghana for almost 10 years.
Recently, the organization sponsored school fees for certain students in two villages in Cameroon and will continue to help provide scholarships through a foundation set up by Yong.
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