Award-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams will headline a fundraiser next month to help Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt expand its cultural exchange program with a school in Kenya.
Adams will appear at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland for two shows (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) on April 6.
Funds raised will help Eleanor Roosevelt and the newly formed A Very Taylored Foundation purchase tables and chairs for Marmanet Secondary School, build additional girls bathrooms and provide boarding for some students.
Avery Taylor, the vice principal at Eleanor Roosevelt who helped organize the program, said that the 460 students at Marmanet eat their meals on the floor in an empty multi-purpose room, and that more than 100 students walk two hours each way to school because their families cannot afford the “few extra dollars” it costs for them to live on campus.
“When we went to Kenya, our plan was we were going one time. We were going to leave and find another Third-World country to visit the next year,” Taylor said. “But we realized the need. We realized we couldn’t leave the school the way we found it. It takes so little to make a change there.”
Students from Eleanor Roosevelt who were part of a group that visited Kenya during spring break last year said the visit was eye-opening and one they will never forget.
“The people were so rich in culture,” said Delia Parrish, 17, a senior. “They didn’t have the material possessions, but they were more genuine in character.”
Jong Min Cha, 19, a senior, said he realized how privileged he was after visiting the students at Marmanet.
“They don’t have access to the Internet or electricity,” Cha said. “They eat meat once a week. I can have it every day.”
The school and its Student Government Association raised funds last year to pay for five students and a teacher from the school to come to Prince George’s last September.
Taylor said they visited for two weeks, attending classes with students they met earlier in the year.
Parrish said she would love to one day go back to visit Margaret, a 14-year-old student that she was matched with. Parrish said she sent $60 to pay for Margaret and her twin sister’s school fees.
“I’d love to see how she is doing,” Parrish said.