By Kathi Bliss
A remote village in Benin, West Africa, has a new community project and a new way to thrive, thanks to the caring and commitment of one Lockhart woman, and the generosity of the hometown standing behind her.
In 2010, Magdalena “Maggie” Anchondo, a 2006 Lockhart High School graduate and a Peace Corps volunteer, was assigned as an English teacher at College d’Enseignement (CEG) de Pabegou in Benin, West Africa, a largely French-speaking, primarily agriculturally-driven republic off the Gulf of Guinea. One of the first things that she noticed was that her students, while eager to learn, often lacked the resources and tools they needed.
The village school serves around 425 students, funded only by the students’ annual “scholarly contributions,” about $20 per year per student. The school receives no governmental support, and very little in the means of other financial support from the community’s families – many of whom struggle just to pay their annual contributions.
Not discouraged in the slightest, and hardly daunted by the task of teaching her classes, Anchondo decided her purpose was to do more than just teach her students – she decided to find a way to help them teach themselves.
Last January, Anchondo announced through her parents that she intended to start a Peace Corps project to build a library and computer lab for her students and their school. Her idea, aided considerably by her parents’ dedication to their daughter’s dream, spurred a series of fundraisers in Lockhart, including a golf tournament and a grueling 5K race on a bitterly cold morning.
The work paid off.
Joan Anchondo announced last week that the library in Benin is under construction.
“[it’s wonderful to think] the newest library in Africa was supported by Lockhart, the town with the oldest library in Texas,” she said.
The Anchondo family thanks the supporters, donors, volunteers and friends who helped Maggie raise more than $10,000 to give her project wings – and walls.