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POET team members share experiences from Kenya

Mon, Jul 7th, 2014
Posted in Preston Features

This summer a group of POET team members traveled to Kenya, Africa to help build a dorm for the Traveller’s Oasis Girls School. Michele Anderson, Quality Manager at POET Biorefining, Preston and a resident of Saint Charles participated in this mission trip. “I felt like we really did a lot of good in our short amount of time spent there.” The group worked on a new school dorm for a week. “The work was physically very challenging but after getting to meet the girls and learning about them, it really motivated us to get a lot done.”

Most of the girls at the school are orphaned due to famine, disease or poverty. Roughly half the population of Kenya lives in absolute poverty.

The Travellors Oasis School currently enrolls 173 girls and when the dorm is completed, that number will double. Besides providing food, shelter and clothing for the girls, the goals of the school include providing basic and advanced education, teaching the girls to be entrepreneurs and self-reliant and ultimately alleviating illiteracy, poverty and disease.

“I have children that are ages 9 and 12, the same ages as many of the girls I met. I felt like the TOC girls were the fortunate kids that have been rescued by the school and given a shot at an education and a way out of poverty. I saw many more kids on the streets that weren’t going to school, sometimes rummaging through garbage or just sitting listlessly. That was hard to see because I have children and it just struck me how fortunate we are to live in the United States. All children here can get an education. That’s not the case in Kenya where parents have to pay for school. The average income in the area we were at was less than $350 per year and school costs around $60 per year. The people that I met that had “good” jobs, such as being a teacher or a head Mason earned between $60-$100 per month and that doesn’t buy you very much. It occurred to me how nearly impossible it is to get out of poverty for people born to that country,” said Michele.

“I am sincerely grateful being given the opportunity to go on this mission trip. I appreciate working for a company, POET that supports those that are less advantaged.” POET paid for part of the mission costs and all of the dorm material costs. “Also, I could not have gone on this mission without the financial support of our plant shareholders, vendors and team members. I am truly appreciative and I hope to be able to help another team member from our plant go on this trip next year.” POET is planning to send another team in 2015 to work on a second wing to the dormitory.

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