By Brian Cain
Ten-year-old Eric Lusby could not have known how his benefit concert in February would help the children of Nioro, Senegal.
Eric overheard his mother, Khady Lusby, who was born and raised in Nioro, and his piano teacher discussing Khady’s plans to build a school for the children in her home- town. That gave Eric an idea.
“What about a concert to raise money for that school,” Eric asked. His mother thought it was a great idea and with the help of his piano teacher, older brothers and some friends, Eric had his concert.
“The concert turned out pretty well,” said Eric. “We raised a lot of money. A lot of people came.” The concert raised nearly $2,000 for the school in Nioro — but the best was yet to come.
A donor, who wishes to remain anony- mous, read about Eric’s concert in the Ar- lington Connection and sent Khady a check for $14,000. According to Khady, the donor was touched by Eric “not thinking of himself and doing something for others.” Khady was also touched by the donor’s ac- tions.
“I am so touched by the generosity,” said Khady. “You ask, and people are ready to help out, even complete strangers. That’s a part of America that gets lost in the shuffle.”
The $14,000 check nearly doubled the amount Khady had been able to raise up to that point.
Khady had already built two separate classrooms, and she planned on building one classroom at a time, every year or so.
Now, she is able to start construction of the new school building. Although she does not have all the necessary funds to complete the project, Khady said she believes she will get them.
“All I know is that I have a vision, and this is going to happen. I truly believe in that.” Khady said she believes in what her father taught her — “Don’t ever be afraid to dream. Dream big and then focus on that dream, and work hard to achieve that dream — and that’s what I’m doing for these kids.”
The children in Nioro’s public schools get only one chance to pass the National 9th Grade Exam. If they fail, they are removed from the school system to make room for other children. According to Khady, many of the students who do not pass are girls.
“These are vulnerable girls,” said Khady. “Some people tell them they will make them a model or put them in the movies.” Ac- cording to Khady, many of these vulnerable children are often enticed into dangerous circumstances because of the lure of West- ern culture. “I tell them don’t buy into any- body coming and telling you they are go- ing to make you a movie star,” Khady said.
The two classrooms Khady built has al- ready made a difference. She said there were 55 students last year, the first year for the school. Of those 55 students, 21 passed the school’s 9th grade exam and 34 students took and passed the National 9th Grade Exam. “That was huge,” said Khady. “Ev- eryone is so proud of them.”
The new school year starts this month and the school still needs donations and sup- plies.
Contributions can be sent to: OPEN In- ternational c/o Khady Lusby 5925 N. 10th Road, Arlington, VA 22205 (make checks payable to Open International). For addi- tional information, contact Khady Lusby at firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Interna- tional is a non-profit organization.