'Feeling helpless,' Coquitlam brothers fundraise for African school children

Teens are organizing a Math Camp fundraiser and have a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000 for Askia school in Mali

Two Coquitlam teens are sharing their concerns about the plight of students in an African country.

And they’re hoping Tri-City residents will help them to raise funds for school books and desks.

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With the help of their father, who works for the United Nations in Gao, Mali, Thineth and Siyath Ariyaratne reached out to the school principal at Askia Private School. The boys said they heard about the challenging living conditions faced by Mali youngsters, prompting them to take action.

“I remember feeling helpless as to how I could help them, understanding that my life here in Canada was a blessed one and that I had a responsibility to aid those less fortunate, like the children I was hearing about in Mali,” stated Thineth, 17, a Grade 12 student at Deer Lake School in Burnaby. 

According to the principal, the school building and desks were badly damaged in the ongoing Mali conflict, and many of the students are too poor to pay fees to attend.

Students in Gao,Mali study in less-than-ideal conditions
Students in Gao,Mali study in less-than-ideal conditions in a badly damaged school with broken desks. Two Coquitlam teens are fundraising for the school. - Submitted

To make matters worse, COVID-19 and the rainy season have left the school and its families in dire straits. 

While Askia Private School has tried to ensure that students can stay enrolled, costs are mounting with the additional burden of replacing desks, tables and chairs. As well, science books are in short supply.

To help out, the teens are partnering with Mathnasium of Tri-Cities on a Math Camp fundraiser to build awareness for the Askia students.

For a minimum donation of $15, students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 can get an hour of help with their math homework from Mathnasium of Tri-Cities. The event runs from Nov. 15 to 21.

Participants are asked to email tri-cities@mathnasium.ca for an appointment.

There's also a GoFundMe page for direct donations with the goal of raising $5,000.

In addition, science text books can be donated and dropped off at Mathnasium, Unit 8, 2991 Lougheed Hwy., Coquitlam. 

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