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Middleton High School student raises over $13,000 for Kenya school bus

Tesia Shibilski initially set out to raise $10,000 for a school bus, but ended up surpassing her goal.
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 7:00 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - At 16 years old, most high schoolers are focused on getting their driver’s license or texting their friends. Tesia Shibilski, a sophomore at Middleton High School, has bigger concerns, like helping students halfway around the world get to class.

Shibilski grew up understanding the importance of giving back. As a little girl, Shibilski’s grandfather would take her to meetings for an organization dedicated to helping people and the environment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Additionally, Shibilski’s mom’s childhood social studies teacher founded a non-profit called the Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative, focused on promoting youth education and empowerment in Kenya.

When Shibilski saw photos and pamphlets about Kijana, she knew she wanted to help contribute to their mission.

Tesia Shibilski raised money to help get a new school bus for students in Kenya.
Tesia Shibilski raised money to help get a new school bus for students in Kenya.(NBC15)

“I just saw how big of a positive impact it can have on people, and seeing the people and learning more about the organization, the Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative, I knew it was something I wanted to take on,” she said. “I thought I could contribute, I can do something good.”

After learning more, Shibilski heard about the need for a bus for Kijana’s school in Kenya, and decided to do something about it. She called her friends and family, and started spreading the word about her mission to raise money for a new school bus.

As a tech savvy 16-year-old, she also took to social media, starting an Instagram account to raise awareness of her efforts. Her goal was to raise $10,000.00 for a bus.

“Especially with teens, we can all relate to school and education and buses,” she said. “I think using the social media platform to connect people my age that can understand. Students helping students is, I think, a really good way to get people involved.”

By teaming up with friends, she surpassed her goal, ultimately raising $13,865.00 towards purchasing a new school bus for Kijana Global Innovation School.

The Kijana Global Innovation School in Kenya.
The Kijana Global Innovation School in Kenya.(NBC15)

Currently, the school in Kenya is using a smaller van to help transport students to class. The bus will serve as a second, larger, vehicle, and is expected to arrive in July. Shibilski is hoping that next summer she’ll be able to travel to Kenya to meet the students and see the bus for herself.

“I’ll just feel so good that I was able to help these kids and give them the opportunity to go to the school and take the bus to the school,” she said. “I think we can all relate to riding the bus and going to school, it’s a good thing to know that I’ve helped other kids have that experience.”

Now, Shibilski is part of Kijana’s National Youth Leadership Team, and encourages her peers to find ways they can give back too.

“Find something you’re very passionate about, something you really care about,” she said. “Maybe something that relates to something you’ve done before, and then find an organization, or maybe even start your own, to help anywhere, anybody.”

To learn more about Kijana, click here.

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