News anchor helps K.C. schools connect with Kabul counterparts
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY - It may seem far away to most of us, but for a handful of girls at St. Teresa's Academy, the plight of young women in Afghanistan is up close and personal. What began as a question in a current events class, "What can we do to help?" blossomed into months of research and planning, culminating in a rally last month to raise awareness and some money for Afghan women.
Marty Denzer/Key photo
Elizabeth Alex of KSHB 41 chats with students Caroline Eberle and Kate Graham about scholarships St. Teresa's Academy students are sponsoring for a school in Kabul. Alex left April 7 for Kabul.
The money raised was donated to Women of the World, a non-profit organization designed to empower women to leadership. End of story?
Enter Elizabeth Alex, news anchor for KSHB-TV 41. She had covered several stories about the relief efforts of Olathe, Kan.-based Heart to Heart International, including a story last November about a CD made in Kansas City featuring local musicians and singers. The CD, called, "Let Freedom Sing, a Kansas City Tribute to the Heroes of Sept. 11," benefitted Heart to Heart and its work in New York.
Alex, a member of St. Therese Little Flower Parish, told The Catholic Key that she had approached Heart to Heart founder and president Gary Morsch to discuss joining him on one of the relief trips his organization was planning, specifically a trip to Afghanistan in April.
Her station agreed to fund her trip. While researching the TV station's archives she ran across some film footage on Women of the World, a Kansas City-based organization designed to empower women in emerging democracies.
Steffany Hedencamp of WOW told The Key that they gave Alex information not only on their projects but also about the International Foundation of Hope, which sponsors aid programs for families, agriculture and education in developing countries, and about the Afghan rally hosted by the students at St. Teresa's Academy.
Alex contacted St. Teresa's.
She spoke to director of institutional advancement Kevin Flattery about the rally. She learned that the girls had raised a total of $355 from free-will donations at the event, and that students from Rockhurst and Notre Dame de Sion high schools had participated, also. Flattery told her about other Afghan projects the girls are working on.
Because Women of the World had helped host the rally, the money raised was donated to them to use as the organization saw fit.
Hedencamp said WOW had decided to use the funds to provide scholarships for tuition at the Primary School of Hope, a school in Kabul sponsored by the Colorado Springs-based International Foundation of Hope, and attended mostly by girls since it reopened March 21 after being closed by the Taliban government for five years. Tuition at the school is $150 per child per year.
Women of the World will send the money directly to the Primary School of Hope on behalf of St. Teresa's. The goal is to build a sister school relationship between the two schools.
On April 5, Alex spoke with some of the students who had planned and hosted the rally. Along with certificates of the scholarship awards, which the students signed, Alex planned to take taped messages from the girls, a video of some of the students on the campus, St. Teresa's school sweatshirts and the March 17 issue of The Catholic Key, which carried the story of the Afghan rally.
Alex asked the girls if their efforts had stemmed from being Catholic and attending a Catholic school. The unanimous response was, "Yes!" The girls said their Catholic faith and their school had taught them compassion.
Caroline Eberle, a senior, said part of the goal of the St. Teresa's effort was to let the girls at the Primary School of Hope in Kabul "know there is hope out there. Despite the distance of thousands of miles, we are connected."
Mary Nuygen, also a senior, said she wanted the girls at the Primary School of Hope to have the privilege of an education and the courage to hold their heads high again.
Alex, who planned to reach Kabul by April 11, was traveling with a photographer and Heart to Heart's Morsch. The group was headed first for London, then to Dubai. In Kabul, they planned to join a British relief group, Hope Worldwide, and stay with them.
Alex was planning to visit the Primary School of Hope and present the scholarship certificates and sweatshirts on behalf of St. Teresa's. She also planned to accompany Morsch, a physician, in his work around the Kabul area.
Alex said she is excited about the trip, although "a little nervous." She hoped to be able to stay in contact electronically with KSHB-TV and send back frequent reports of the people and conditions in Kabul.
She also took the e-mail addresses of The Catholic Key and St. Teresa's in case she had a chance to send observations and photos.
Alex plans to return to Kansas City April 17.