Not everyone has the ability to travel overseas to lend their talents and services to those in need, but anyone can decide to support those who can.
Supporting those who can is why Mount Rainier Christian Center is hosting a fundraiser to help send a dozen Plateau residents to Rialo in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
This will be the third year Christian Center members Jane Matson and Paul Clark have traveled to Rialo with Walk in the Light International (WITLI), a Washington-based nonprofit that focuses its efforts on improving Burkina Faso’s access to education, clean water medical supplies and more.
In the first year, Clark, Matson, her husband Jeff and another Christian Center member brought dental supplies to Rialo and two other villages in the county, Matson said.
“We took toothbrushes and little toothpaste packets for the kids and taught them about brushing,” she said, adding that they also got to witness a well being drilled and the first bricks of a medical center be laid.
A year later, a group of six traveled to Rialo. By this point, the medical clinic was finished and Matson’s husband, a dentist, and a dental assistant were able to provide dental care for many residents.
This time around, a group of 12 will be heading back to the village to continue providing dental care, but also helping out in the local school and organizing a sports program.
The dozen travelers will be splitting off before meeting again in Rialo.
The first group includes Matson’s daughter, Leah, who will be departing June 19 to spend some time organizing soccer camps in other Burkina Faso cities and villages before heading to Rialo.
Leah, an Enumclaw High School freshman, has been raising money in order to install two goals by the school in Rialo, as well as collecting donated soccer equipment thought the Cascade Foothills Soccer Club.
Luke Olney, an Hornet graduate now at Western Washington University, is also helping out the soccer program.
Traveling with them is Charla Travis, a speech language pathologist at Wilkeson Elementary, who will head to the county’s capital to learn how teachers are being trained to teach deaf students in order to eventually assist teachers in Rialo.
“They have a lot of deaf kids in the village,” Matson said. “They didn’t know that. They just thought they were dumb. They didn’t know they were actually deaf.”
The second group consists of Matson, two dentists (one being her husband, the other being Brent Skovmand), dental assistant Camille Fink, student nurse Heidi Kilbourn, second-grade teacher Brigitte Whitten, Bonnie Middleton from the Christian Center, former teacher Deanna Olney, and welder and metal fabricationist Larry Travis.
Matson will be heading a prayer group while the dentists and nurse station themselves in the medical center; the teacher and grandmother will focus on teaching in the school; and Travis, the welder, will be putting down the financial foundation for a welding business in the county’s capital for people from the village to work at.
“He’s gone around to a bunch of businesses that he works with to donate money so… they can start a welding business there,” Matson said. “They’re going to teach some people from the village some skills in welding. Trying to teach them these skills so they can do projects on their own and make money.”
The Mount Rainier Christian Center group will be spending a total of seven nights in Rialo.
To raise more money for their trip, the Mount Rainier Christian Center is hosting a fundraiser from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7.
The fundraiser includes a spaghetti dinner, complete with a comedy show with Brett Hollis and a dessert auction.
Tickets to dine in are $20 per person, or $12 for take-out, and can be bought at https://witli.webconnex.com/spaghetticomedy.
For more information, Matson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.