By Cheraine Amelo (YES 2018-2019, Suriname, placed by PAX in Bluffton, IN)
In December 2021, I collaborated with three other Surinamese YES alumni to organize a Youth Arts and Crafts Fundraiser. For the fundraiser, we collaborated with the Kennedy School, a school for students with disabilities in Paramaribo, to organize a workshop for students to showcase their artistic talents. We then hosted an exhibit of the students’ artwork to raise funds for a young girl in our community who has a physical and mental disability.
During the arts workshop, participants chose to draw or paint, and they all made beautiful works of art. There were about 30 participants in the workshop, and they ranged in age from 7 to 18 years old. Since all of the students have a hearing and/or speech disability, myself and the other organizers struggled to communicate with them due to our lack of familiarity with Dutch Sign Language. Fortunately, faculty members from the Kennedy School were able to interpret for us, and within an hour, we were starting to be able to communicate directly with the students. On December 17, we hosted the exhibit and fundraiser. About 25 people visited the exhibit, and we were able to raise a significant amount of funds, both through donations and selling refreshments at the event.
I was inspired to organize this event by “A Night to Shine”, an event hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation for students with disabilities to experience their own prom. For some of the organizers, this was their first experience working with people with disabilities, and we all found it to be a very rewarding experience. I hope to continue working with students with disabilities in the future and encourage other YES alumni to also participate in these types of projects.