Young Girl Helps Build
27 Homes and School
For Earthquake Victims
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. — When 12-year-old Rachel Wheeler was greeted with songs and praise in the Haitian village she helped develop over a two-year period, she felt satisfied. But, she also decided in that moment on her next pressing philanthropic project to pursue.
It was here, in the coastal village of Kay Piti, in Leogane, among the new vibrantly painted homes, that Rachel became aware that not all children are able to attend school. Determined to make a difference, Rachel's latest goal is to build a school for the kids who lost theirs in the 2010 earthquake, FoodForThePoor.org reports.
"I want to build a school because they need education to make their lives better so they can learn and teach their own children how to have a better life," said Rachel Wheeler, who was named one of America's 2011 top 10 youth volunteers out of approximately 29,000 applicants. "Without education, Haiti will never be able to improve the lives of its people," said Rachel. "You can't just sit around and think about doing it," Rachel told the Miami Herald. "You got to actually get out there and do it."
The Zion Lutheran School sixth grader first learned about the extreme destitution that Haiti's residents face when she attended a Food for the Poor meeting in 2009 with her mom. When Rachel heard that the kids eat mud cookies and live in cardboard houses because they're so poor, she vowed to help make a difference, NBC reports.
While in Haiti, Rachel and her family visited the Food For The Poor-sponsored school Ti Aiyti in Cité Soleil. The students, dressed in blue and white uniforms, greeted guests with laughter, smiles, handmade cards, and performances. "I believe that knowledge is power," said Julie Wheeler, Rachel's mother. "Education is the solution to poverty. Seeing the school in Cité Soleil gave me hope, those children are the future leaders of their country."
In addition to providing supplies, Food For The Poor also supports school feeding programs, feeding 2 million impoverished people daily around the world. For many poor children, the nutritious meal they receive at school may be their only meal of the day. The meals not only help a child concentrate, learn and develop, but they also serve as a powerful incentive for parents to send their children to school. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
"Rachel didn't just WANT to help," her mother, Julie, told the news outlet, "but she said she HAD to help." Rachel partnered with Food For The Poor. The then 9-year-old committed to raising enough money to build 12 homes in a small village just outside of Port-au-Prince
Rachel collected funds by organizing bake sales, passing a donation can at homecoming games and selling homemade potholders at her Deerfield Beach, Fla. school, according to NBC. She turned to her parents' friends and her church for help and the Lighthouse Point Chamber of Commerce sent two substantial checks her way.
In just three years, her fundraising efforts surpassed $250,000, enough to erect 27 concrete two-room homes. Each is equipped with an area for beds and a living space, CBS reports. The area was dubbed "Rachel's Village."
"I like school because I think that without school, you can't succeed in life. You can't be anything," said Filona, who watches her six younger siblings while her mother is at the local market, selling mangoes for five cents apiece.
Rachel's school will be constructed in Reap de Morel, Leogane, near the epicenter of the January 2010, 7.2 earthquake. Prior to the earthquake, 250 students from kindergarten to the sixth grade were registered and attended the school. Classes are currently held in a one-room, makeshift structure that floods when it rains. Rusted sheet-metal, pieces of wood and blue tarps offer students little protection from the weather.
"Rachel is an incredible young lady who has dreams of a better life for poor children," said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor's Executive Director. "With the construction of this school, children from 'Rachel's Village' and the surrounding area will be able to wear uniforms, walk proudly to school and learn how to read and write."
"I want to build a school because they need education to make their lives better so they can learn and teach their own children how to have a better life," Rachel told the nonprofit.
Rachel has hit the halfway mark in her fundraising efforts for building the school in Leogane, according to NBC, and is determined to hit her goal. "I don't believe I can snap my fingers and change Haiti overnight," she told NBC. "I know I have to work at it."
Want to help Rachel's cause? Donate here or mail your tax-deductible donation to Food For The Poor, 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. Make checks payable to "Food For The Poor" and include the special source code "SC# 80982."