Schools in Philippines, Sri Lanka get supplies, sports gear from PMHS Interact Club

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Don Onofre S. Diaz Children’s Library in the Philippines.

Five boxes of school supplies, sports equipment and a computer have been shipped to two schools in the Philippines and Sri Lanka by the Pelham Memorial High School Interact Club following the group’s effort begun in January to provide new technological and educational materials for the schools.

“The Interact Club worked to gather school supplies, books and daily items,” said Jamie Burke, president during last school year and a founder of the club. “We also expanded to things like soccer balls, footballs or craft materials, as well as education supplies like pencil sharpeners, notebooks, textbooks and fiction books.”

The schools picked to receive the supplies and equipment were Nelintap Elementary School in the Philippines and Rahala East Junior School in Sri Lanka. A major goal of the project was to raise enough money to provide a computer to the Don Onofre S. Diaz Library, which is associated with Nelintap Elementary. This would be the first introduction of such technology in the community. 

Computer and related equipment set up in the Don Onofre S. Diaz Children’s Library.

Leading the effort with Burke was Interact co-founder and now-former vice president Nevan Malwana.

Affiliated with the Rotary Club of the Pelhams, the Interact Club has so far delivered two boxes of supplies to the Philippines and is awaiting confirmation that three boxes shipped to Sri Lanka have arrived. Along with that, there is an additional box to be shipped to the Philippines.

“Right when winter break was ending was when I got the idea to donate this first computer to the Don Onofre S. Diaz Library for the local school children to use as well as the general public, and then we also thought about the supplies,” Burke said.

To begin the process, the student organization worked on gathering donated supplies from fellow students and community members. These supplies were collected in various locations including outside of the high school auditorium or at Burke’s house. There was also an option to donate money, which along with money from the sponsorship of the Rotary Club, was put towards paying for the computer. 

Teachers unpacked supplies.

After the boxes were successfully delivered to the Philippines, the school responded with two videos filled with heartwarming “thank yous” to the Interact Club for the donations.

“For most members of the community, this is their first time ever seeing a computer and their first time ever touching one as well,” Burke said. “The computer that was sent also had a headset, speaker, keyboard and mouse, as well as a DVD player and webcam.”

The community is filled with excitement to put their new supplies to use as well as test out their very first computer. 

The Interact Club plans to continue to create projects in the coming school year as new leaders take over. Burke said she wants to use her leadership skills at Baylor University this year as she hopes to create a club similar to Interact but altered to fit for college.

Last year’s officers also included secretary Katja Fair and treasurer Matthew Cannella. Officers for the coming school year: Eileen Mazzaro (president), Ray Atlas (vice president), Caroline Garufi (secretary) and Prashaan Malwana (treasurer).