RL Launches All-School Fund Drive

To kick off the all-school fund drive, founder of Medicines for Humanity Tim Bilodeau ’68 talked to the School about his organization’s work in Haiti, and the tangible difference to the lives of the earthquake survivors that each donation makes.

Joan Regan, who coordinates community service for the School, introduced Mr. Bilodeau, as well as Sam Heilbron and Stephen Kuenstner of Class I—who gave a presentation on their month at Maru a Pula (MaP) this summer. Both Medicines for Humanity (MFH) and the Maru a Pula School in Botswana will be the beneficiaries of the All-School Fund Drive. As a result of last year’s drive, RL sent MFH $6,000 to support its work in Haiti, and to Maru a Pula $11,500 to cover all costs to send an AIDS orphan in Botswana to the school. “In addition to raising money,” Mrs. Regan said, “many of us have had the opportunity to work directly with MFH projects in Jamaica and spend time at MaP in Botswana. We have witnessed the extent of the need and the good work done by both organizations—these have been life-changing experiences for those involved.”

In the Hall, Sam and Stephen asked all students to stand if they are involved in a fall sport. With more than half the audience on their feet, they said, “You represent the proportion of Maru a Pula students who are AIDS orphans.” In Botswana, one in five kids are orphaned as a result of AIDS. The per capita income in that country is only a fraction above the US poverty level figure—and ranks #53 against the USA’s #6 (Luxembourg is #1). During the weeks Sam and Stephen spent at Maru a Pula and the surrounding area, they witnessed this gap first hand, and simultaneously experienced the strength of the MaP school community and the generosity of the people they met. RL has been supporting MaP as a brother school since the mid 1980s.

Mr. Bilodeau (who is not only an RL alumnus but also the father of Chris Bilodeau, our newest addition in the Business Office) showed slides of the “heros on the ground” in Haiti, people who daily are making a measurable difference. He gave an example of how far RL’s $6,000 can go. Holding up three packets of oral rehydration salts, he said, “Dehydration usually from diarrhea is one of the leading killers of children. One packet costs ten cents. It takes three packets to save a life.” As bad as the situation in Haiti is, there is an ongoing injustice around the world, an annual holocaust in which each year 9 million children under the age of 5 die from illnesses that are easily treated and preventable. “This is the mission of Medicines for Humanity: to work through our in-country health partners to provide pedialite, amoxicillin, mosquito nets and anti-malarial meds, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and anti-parasite meds for malnutrition; and to treat directly more than 300,000 children each year,” said Mr. Bilodeau. “We want to expand this reach.”

The All-School Fund Drive runs from October 20 to 26. Students, faculty, and staff can collectively impact the lives of vulnerable children through their generosity; the class that raises the most money will be honored (Class III won that honor last year). Class reps will collect from students; all other donations can be left with Mrs. Regan.

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