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Meghan Bruni poses for a portrait near her condo in Toronto, on Nov. 5, 2020.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

The organizers: Meghan Bruni and Serena Bufalino

The pitch: Raising $40,000 for a school in Kenya

Meghan Bruni was on a trip to Zambia several years ago when she made a visit to Kenya that changed her life.

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She’d been working with young students and became frustrated that so many had to drop out because they couldn’t afford the fees. In Kenya she met Padox Aouki, who was involved with several non-profit organizations in Kibera, an impoverished part of Nairobi.

They created a Canadian charity called Students for Education, Empowerment and Development, and started building a school. It opened in 2007 and has around 100 students from kindergarten to Grade 4. The charity covers the cost of running the school, roughly $12,000 a year, and funds several scholarships.

Ms. Bruni, an elementary school teacher in Toronto, is now raising $100,000 to rebuild the school and add a third floor. That would accommodate another 60 students and expand to Grades 5 and 6. So far she’s raised $60,000.

This summer she organized a 130-kilometre bike ride from Toronto to the Niagara area to raise money for the project.

She was joined by Serena Bufalino, who runs a Canadian organization called Help Heal Humanity or HHH. Ms. Bufalino worked as a teacher for at-risk youth in Toronto before creating HHH to build a school in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The school opened in 2018 and has 121 students. The building cost US$250,000 and HHH raises around US$65,000 annually for its operations. It also funds other programs including working with homeless people in Hamilton.

“Our missions are aligned to providing some of the most at-risk youth on the planet with the ability to attend a school,” she said referring to SEED.

The two women raised $5,000 from the ride despite the pandemic and hope to keep growing their organizations. “I never realized that one person with the support of others can literally transform the world,” said Ms. Bufalino. Added Ms. Bruni: “When I go to Kenya and I see the kids in school and how happy they are to be in school, I feel really grateful to be part of it.”

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