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The Student News Site of Westborough High School

The Lobby Observer

The Student News Site of Westborough High School

The Lobby Observer

Seniors Last Day!

Educating Across Borders: Two Juniors Plan A Service Trip To Africa

Bridges (left) and Fanelli (right)

Juniors, Nina Fanelli and Grace Bridges, have taken on the enormous task of planning, funding, and executing a service trip to Africa to help build a primary school. Motivated by the goal to empower kids in a less fortunate place, the duo has planned a trip to Malawi in August 2024 through Build-On. 

Through this program, Fanelli and Bridges created a fundraising campaign to raise $34,000 towards materials and equipment for building a school where kids of all ages in the local community can receive a formal education. In the past few years, the two have volunteered with many organizations but decided they wanted to focus their efforts on something that would have a direct impact. 

Reflecting on her motivation, Fanelli says, “I wanted to do something that was not going to benefit me directly, in the way that the work I was doing around Westborough was.” 

Originally, Fanelli had found this program through her uncle who happened to know the founder of Build-On. Following their decision to go on this trip, they met others who had done similar service trips in the past. With the idea lined up, they emailed the coordinator for Build-On and were able to get in touch with Daniella, the East Coast advisor who guided them through the process of setting up their campaign. 

Fanelli and Bridges state, “We emailed people. This is how people get money. I had this template… and I explained everything and sent it to everyone I knew and got back a few grand.”

Over the past few months, the group has slowly made its way toward half of its fundraising goal. Fanelli and Bridges hosted a neighborhood Halloween party where all of the proceeds went towards funding this trip. By also participating in Build-On match days, days where Build-On will match the amount of money put into the fundraiser, the campaign strategically raised significant amounts in donations for the campaign. At the moment, the team is in 10th place overall in terms of fundraising in the foundation.

Build-On is a non-profit that hosts multiple trips to countries that struggle with poverty and illiteracy. Malawi, a landlocked country in southern Africa has struggled with its limited access to education due to insufficient infrastructure, materials, and teachers. With the added poverty rate, school is not a top priority for many of the children there, especially young girls. The goal of this school is to keep an equal ratio of girls to boys and allow access for both to experience a quality education in a proper environment.

With the company having done this trip many times, the group on the service trip helps construction workers and contractors build the base of the school.

 “What we do is kind of ceremonial,” Fanelli states, “you go and you build the foundation of it and then you have workshops with the people that live there and you talk about the lives of what they’ve done, typically young women.”

After the time they spent building the school, the group spent their time with the host family and with the local people. It’s a way for them to truly understand how the community works and the ways in which this school will be beneficial. By identifying specific needs, the volunteers can tailor their efforts to the locals and ensure the school becomes part of the community seamlessly.

Bridges concludes, “I think it’s a good opportunity to experience and be immersed in a culture extremely different from ours and simultaneously be able to help them.”


With any questions, reach out to Nina Fanelli ([email protected]) or Grace Bridges ([email protected]). 

If you would like to donate, you can do it through this link:

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About the Contributor
Sahana Karthik '25
Sahana Karthik '25, Managing Co-Editor
Sahana Karthik, a managing Co-Editor, is a junior at WHS and is currently in her third year of journalism. She enjoys the opportunity to talk to new people around the school and explore new areas of the surrounding towns. In her free time you can find Sahana walking her two dogs and hanging out with her friends.

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