Moorestown students present check, form bond with high school in Africa

“It’s not just about the money,” sophomore class president Tommy Londres said.

Photo Special to The Sun. Peter Gamula founded Mercy High School in Malawi in 2010, and the school has since grown from 35 students to more than 450.

It’s not just about the money.

That is what Moorestown High School sophomore class president Tommy Londres said before the student body presented Mercy High School founder Peter Gamula with a check for $1,500.

“It’s more focused on the relationship that we share between these two schools,” Londres said. “That’s going to have a lasting impact.”

Mercy High is located in Malawi, the poorest country in the world, according to Gamula.

Londres became passionate about helping the school after visiting Malawi with his father. He pitched the idea of donating the money raised during 2016 high school homecoming festivities and spirit week to the school, and student council agreed.

“The annual income [in Malawi] is about $225. That’s a pretty big difference from what we make in the U.S.,” Londres said.

The students raised the $1,500 during spirit week through t-shirt sales, coin drives and pie-in-the-face contests. A portion of the proceeds from the school’s spring talent show will also be donated to Mercy High School.

Gamula founded Mercy High School in 2010, and prior to the school’s opening, many students had to walk two hours or more to get to school. Now, it takes them less than 20 minutes.

The school, one of five run by an organization called MercyCare Malawi, was originally comprised of 35 students crammed into one classroom. Now, Gamula leads a school of more than 450 students on nine acres of land that includes multiple classrooms, a library, a science center, an agricultural learning area, a soccer field and an administration staff building. Printed on the front of the school is “transforming lives through education.”

“I started this school because in Malawi, kids are so passionate for education, but to find a place to get that education wasn’t there,” Gamula said.

Gamula also reiterated Londres’ idea that while the money is important, fostering a relationship is more important.

“He started this high school from the ground up,” homecoming and spirit week coordinator Lisa Trapani said of Gamula. “He had a vision and he moved forward with it.”

Trapani added the money will buy Mercy High School a year’s worth of Internet service, a router, a flat screen monitor and a webcam. It will also provide food for students.

Londres echoed the importance of technology in schools.

“Our students will be able to connect with their students via Skype or FaceTime,” he said. “We’ll be able to share how our lives are different but how they’re similar, too. We’re both students at high schools. We’re really not that different.”

In the past, funds raised from spirit week at MHS have gone to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, breast cancer research, Pennies From Melvin and the Epilepsy Foundation. The April 26 talent show is expected to raise a few hundred dollars for Mercy High School, according to Trapani.

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