Standing in front of Mercy High School, Baltimore, students last year, a small unassuming nun challenged the teens to consider what they could do to make the world a better place.
Urging them to tend to the needs of those who had less, she cited the example of schools in Cambodia where children learn with scarce supplies in so-called buildings without four walls.
Sister Deirdre Mullen’s words sunk deep. The Religious Sister of Mercy is the director of Mercy Global Concerns at the United Nations.
Mary Stefanski, a senior, remembered what happened next.
“Hearing Sister Deirdre’s story made the whole group come together to do something more,” she said.
Teenagers from 14 Mercy secondary schools throughout the U.S. pledged to raise enough money to replace an entire school in Cambodia. They believed they could raise the needed $15,000 if each school contributed a bit more than $1,000.
Mary began with classmates Emily Harris, Merrie Goodlander and Danielle Abell.
Across the country, thousands of teenagers united who had never met. The 14 schools presented Sister Deirdre with $25,000 – surpassing their goal – then initiated the next project – Project Cambodia.
They are now raising money for Mercy-sponsored projects in Kenya where the Sisters of Mercy have established a comprehensive care center that includes a school, an orphanage, a health facility and food distribution.
Mercy students Audrey Van de Castle, Kelsey Flaherty, Jenna Parr and Gina Free will organize the Kenya Help? fundraising efforts.
They’ve paired with the Girls’ Athletic Association to sponsor a walk-a-thon, and other activities are underway.
“Our hard work has paid off,” Emily said.
For more information on Kenya Help? or Project Cambodia, contact Jessica Gregg at Mercy at 410-433-8880.