The School of Nursing and Health Studies Academic Council held a gala in Copley Formal Lounge to benefit Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya, on Feb. 22.
Founded in 2003 by Fr. Terry Charlton, S.J., St. Al’s supports children affected by HIV and AIDS.
“Over the years, fellow Jesuits, faculty and staff from Georgetown have gotten to know Fr. Terry and have had the opportunity to visit the school and bring back to our campus information about the good work that is being done in Nairobi,” NHS Associate Dean for Enrollment Management Marianne Lyons said.
All of the children had lost at least one parent to the disease and are in situations of financial instability as a result, according to NHS Academic Council co-Chair Antonia Kopp (NHS ’14).
In addition to bestowing full tuition scholarships on many, St. Al’s provides all students with meals, uniforms and books. The annual cost to send a student to St. Al’s is $1,200. In the past several years, the school has grown significantly, from 56 students to a current figure of nearly 270 students. The school has the capacity to instruct over 400 students.
Georgetown programs, often affiliated with the Medical Center, have attempted to ameliorate the AIDS crisis, abroad and in the District. The university also played host to The Global Fund’s conference on medical epidemics, including HIV/AIDS, in December, amid President Barack Obama’s commitment of up to $5 billion of U.S. funds to AIDS relief.
“After the four years there [in Kenya], a lot of the students go on to go to college here [in the U.S.], but they are expected to come back in the long run and settle in Kenya. They also have to do a period of service in the community,” said Kopp.
In January, the NHS Academic Council partnered with the Georgetown AIDS Coalition to host the Unity Live event, featuring various on-campus performing groups. The concert was able to collect more than $2,200 from ticket sales, enough to fund tuition for two students at St. Al’s.
The council’s goal was to raise enough money, through its various events, to send eight students to St. Al’s. The second annual gala, which attracted close to 200 students, raised nearly $8,000 in ticket sales, nearly reaching the desired amount of $10,000.
“Both this year and last year we had a past student from St. Al’s come and speak. This year we had someone from Milwaukee who is a past graduate and is working as a nurse now,” NHS Academic Council co-Chair Jamie Schlarbaum (NHS ’15) said.
Both Kopp and Schlarbaum discussed how they were excited that so many students outside of the NHS came to the event this year.
“We are trying to make this a campus-wide effort, and we want everyone to feel included,” Schlarbaum said.
In the coming months, there are plans to host another donor event to try to raise more money for the school. Donations will go directly toward the funding of scholarships, uniforms and food.
“Our connection with St. Al’s directly reflects our school’s values of excellence, respect and diversity, social justice and value of the common good,” Lyons said.