A Coquitlam woman decided to forego birthday presents this year, instead asking friends and family to donate the money to a family in Mombasa, Kenya whose father abandoned it and struggles to pay for school tuition.
Alyssah-Jasmine Merani said on a GoFundMe page that she met the family while teaching in the country in 2018. Selina and Ester Peters, she wrote, have just begun Grades 1 and 3. Their mother, Aisha, works as a cook and cleaner, and struggles to support her children.
Merani launched the GoFundMe page at the end of January; at the time of publication, it had raised $4,900.
It’s not the first time the young woman has redirected people’s generosity to help others. In 2004, Merani and her sister started a fundraising campaign for a school in Kabul, Afghanistan started by the late Dr. Roshan Thomas. The Canadian physician was killed, according to a BBC report, in a Persian New Year terror attack in Kabul while on a trip to help administer exams that would place international students in schools around the world.
“Thomas instilled a sense of open-mindedness, educating me to understand that there are children in other parts of the world that do not have access to learning or given the opportunity to be taught,” Merani wrote on her GoFundMe page.
And referring to the Selina and Ester Peters, she said: “These girls deserve to be in a school, where teachers have their best interests at heart.”