ACCESS granted to kids in Third World

By 
  • June 20, 2008
{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - After seeing firsthand the barriers to education that many children face abroad, 19-year-old Daniel Francavilla decided to do something.

Two years have passed since he travelled to the Dominican Republic on a high school exposure trip, but he has since established a student-run non-profit organization, raised $20,000 and sent a few large shipments of supplies to help children attend school in three different countries.
“Simple, simple things preventing the kids from going to school was my main motivation,” Francavilla said.

While in the Dominican Republic, Francavilla’s group stayed with middle class families and visited everything from free trade zones and sweatshops to poor rural and urban communities known as the bateyes and the barios.

What struck him the most, he said, was seeing that many kids could not attend school because they couldn’t afford something as simple as a school uniform.

So not long after his return, he went to his home parish, St. Marguerite D’Youville in Brampton, Ont., and invited parishioners to donate money for uniforms through  his newly formed charity, ACCESS: Allowing Children a Chance at Education .

“I showed a slideshow and talked about my experience then sat outside with a little bowl and it started filling up fast,” he said.

In two weekends he raised $8,000 which he sent to the Grey Sisters in the Dominican Republic, who bought and distributed the uniforms for him.

Other students from the trip and volunteering peers have since  joined in raising money for school supplies. They have held supply drives to send to Honduran children, which they were able to ship with the help of another Toronto charity, Francavilla said. These included items like paper, notebooks, writing utensils and backpacks.

Francavilla was also soon put into contact with a school principal in Colombia, through a Colombian woman he met in Brampton. Again, ACCESS sent assistance.

“She told me about the schools and what they need,” he said. “We decided to get some whiteboards and sent the full amount to the principal so they could build a shelter on the playground.”

Working directly with schools or religious groups in the communities receiving money and supplies ensures that help will be given right away, Francavilla said.

After speaking with a religious sister about how he enjoyed making presentations about education and poverty to students at his own school, he was encouraged to continue doing so at other schools.

This began Francavilla’s quest to share insights into the value of education with other students. He has spoken at various elementary schools about his experiences.

Because of his talks, some schools later held bake sales and donated proceeds to ACCESS.

“They realize the gap between our world and the developing world,” Francavilla said. “They have a lot of questions about the lifestyle.”

This past month, Francavilla also held a contest for elementary school students to make a creative piece or display, showing what education means to them, whether it was what they like about school or where they think education will take them in the future.

Francavilla will be attending the Ontario College of Art and Design in the fall, but he hopes to visit elementary schools in Toronto to continue raising money and educating students about the value of education.

For more information, pictures and videos about ACCESS and its various projects and fundraising events, visit www.accesscharity.ca.

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