Fourth graders help refugees get books by making bracelets

MARLTON, N.J. (WPVI) — “I know that a lot of kids might not like school, might not want to go and learn about fractions,” said fourth grade student Natalie Rogers. “But if you’re in a refugee camp, maybe that distracts you from hunger, or maybe it prepares you for life in America, if you could ever have one.”

10-year-old Rogers first learned about refugees when her class at Van Zant Elementary School read a book about them. “When Stars Are Scattered” tells the story of Omar Mohamed and his mentally disabled brother growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp called Dadaab.

“That really inspired me and I wanted to do something to help the refugees,” Rogers said. “And so I got a group of friends together and we all made bracelets.”

Rogers and her friends sold their handmade Loom bracelets at the school’s book fair. Under the motto “Every cent counts”, they collected a total of 501.79 US dollars. Generous donors from the school community donated an additional $400 to Mohamed’s non-profit organization, Refugee Strong.

“It really moves me because they don’t know the impact what they’ve done is having on these refugee children,” said Mohamed, who fled Somalia at the age of four and has lived most of his life in Dadaab.

Mohamed left Kenya in 2008 and currently resides in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Through Refugee Strong, he sends educational materials to children who grew up in the same circumstances as he did.

Currently one US dollar equals about 117 Kenyan shillings. With donations totaling about $1,000, Mohamed says students at Van Zant will help thousands of refugee children get an education.

“Each kid can go to school for maybe $10,” Mohamed said. “We don’t want a child in a refugee camp to miss school because they don’t have a book, pen or pencil, or even a school to go to.”

Recently, says Mohamed, they have completed the construction of the first library in Dadaab. Natalie Rogers and her friends can make a name for themselves by making a donation for filling a specific section with books.

As the inaugural bracelet campaign draws to a close, Rogers hopes to make it an annual tradition at her elementary school.

“If we can donate to Refugee Strong every year, it could be life-changing,” she said. “This could change the lives of families. You know, that could just change everything.”

To learn more about Refugee Strong, Visit their website.

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https://6abc.com/new-jersey-fourth-graders-help-refugees/11990822/ Fourth graders help refugees get books by making bracelets

Mike Fahey

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