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While he was an 8th grader at The Country School, Joseph Coyne led a yearlong effort to raise more than $8,000 for a well in Uganda that would allow easy access to fresh water for more than 1,500 people—including schoolchildren who will no longer have to miss school to walk miles a day to bring fresh water to their families. (Photo by Beth Coyne )
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Although he’s young—two weeks from starting high school at Choate Rosemary Hall—Joseph Coyne is thinking far beyond his hometown of Madison.
During his 8th grade year at The Country School last year, Joseph served as head of the school’s community service committee. Right around the time school started last year, he found himself talking to Martha Hoffman, founder and chairwoman of the Madison-based nonprofit Call to Care Uganda.
She shared with Joseph the many ways the community service committee could help children in Uganda, and Joseph eagerly got to work on a year of fruitful fundraising.
He says, “I selected two service projects that would connect our school with a school in Uganda. First we collected 600 pairs of shoes to send to the children at the Odongai Primary School [in Kaberamaido, Uganda]. We learned for many of the kids this would be their first pair of shoes.”
The second project was to plan multiple fundraisers to raise more than $8,000 for a well at the school. This would have deep and lasting implications, including clean water for as many as 1,500 people, including students at the school. It also meant that the schoolchildren could actually go to school every day instead of spending several hours a day walking back and forth for miles to bring drinkable water to their homes—a task that often falls to the young girls.
The yearlong effort paid off. Joseph just learned a few days ago that the well was completed.
“I was so excited to hear from our friend and contact in Uganda on Sunday that the well was completed last week and when the students return to school in two weeks they will have clean water,” he says.
As for how The Country School students involved raised the money, Joseph explains, “Throughout the year we raised $2,000 through dress-down days at The Country School, and spare change collections. We also sold Ugandan jewelry and figurines around the holidays. In May, we organized a run at The Country School and raised around $3,000 between our helpful sponsors and the entrance fee.”
Last month, the committee raised the last $3,000 at a Coastal Connecticut Magazine event at the Madison Beach Hotel Concert Series through donations of those in the VIP room event and people at the concert on the grassy strip.
This well is the 28th well Call to Care Uganda has dug since its founding in 2007.
As an added bonus, Call to Care Uganda helped The Country School students set up a pen pal program with Odongai students, so they could get to know the peers whose lives they were changing.
Joseph grew up in Madison and attended The Country School from Pre-K to 8th grade and says he is looking forward to starting high school at Choate Rosemary Hall in two weeks. He’s a soccer and baseball player and also ran cross country at The Country School and plans to run for Choate.
He spends his summers sailing and working as a junior instructor at Yale Sailing in Branford. He hopes to sail for Choate in the spring. He also serves as an altar boy and lector at St. Margaret Church in Madison.
Although he helped change the future for 1,500 people in Uganda, he’s not overly focused on his own future just yet.
“I am excited for high school,” he says. “I plan to take things as they come and not plan too far ahead. I want to enjoy what I am involved in now—my classes, activities, and friends.”
As for his committee’s major accomplishment this year, Joseph states simply, “I am really glad that the well project was so successful and that I could help.”
For more information about Call to Care Uganda, visit www.calltocareuganda.org.
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