Cedar Springs science teacher creates nonprofit to ease strife in Uganda

Posted January 29, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 3,161 views


By Ron Cammel | The Grand Rapids Press ~ CEDAR SPRINGS | A Cedar Springs High School science teacher working in a modern lab spent time the past two summers interacting with children attending school in small rooms with crumbling floors and tarps for roofs.

Now Mary Fournier works hard to meet needs in Uganda, through the nonprofit organization she founded soon after her first trip there in 2009.

Amanda Loman | The Grand Rapids Press ~ Mary Fournier, a chemistry and biology teacher at Cedar Springs High School, founded the nonprofit To Africa: From U.S. after a 2009 trip to Africa. Since its inception, the group has raised $30,000 and hopes to raise another $10,000 to build a school in Southern Uganda.

To: Africa From: U.S. has raised $21,000 to provide a well in the village of Biikira and to supply textbooks, a library and computers to schools, and mattresses and blankets to clinics.
Now Fournier wants to add two rooms onto a school where more than 100 students use a couple of makeshift rooms with little access to books. She said $15,000 will get the job done, and $5,000 has already been raised.

She’s planned a series of fundraisers the next two weeks to generate the next $10,000.
Fournier said she hopes walkers, runners, skiers, bicyclists, dancers and basketball players will log a combined 7,582.4 miles, the distance between West Michigan and Uganda’s capitol, Kampala.

Volunteers can collect pledges and walk on their own. But Club Fitness Center in Greenville is hosting an event at 1 p.m. Feb. 5 in which participants may pay $20 and use treadmills or take off from the center on bikes, skis or on foot to cover miles.

The Cedar Springs High School girls basketball team will accept donations at the Feb. 8 home game as players log miles on the court.
The high school also hosts a dance Feb. 11 in which an hour of dancing will count for three miles.
Fournier’s church, St. Charles Parish in Greenville, is sponsoring a two-mile walk at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 13.

Part of the $5,000 already raised came from a cancer survivor who donated her leftover Make-A-Wish money. Coincidentally, the Biikira well got funds from another cancer survivor donating Make-A-Wish money.

“I was like, ‘whoa, I can’t believe this,’” Fournier said. “It’s amazing the generosity these kids have.”
Fournier, a 10th-grade teacher, said her mission started when her yearning to go to Africa culminated with the 2009 trip. She said she could not find an appropriate group to go with, so she struck out on
her own, connecting with a priest she knew and organizations she looked up.

“I just wanted to go,” she said. “I finally got the money together. I wanted to work with kids. The priest I knew told me of an orphanage.”

To: Africa From: U.S. funds projects based on Fournier’s two trips. She has found Ugandan construction companies and suppliers with which to contract. She said she also checks with trusted people in Catholic Charities and other established groups.

She plans to return to Uganda this summer.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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