Thanks to a challenge from classmates, two Yosemite High School seniors, Haley Nott and Julia McConville, held a fundraising dinner Nov. 8, to help needy families in Nepal.
The challenge came from the D.U.D.E.S. (Dollars for Under-Developed Economic Societies), a small group of Oakhurst boys originally founded by YHS students Phillip McLean, Peter McLean, and Cristian Mendoza, who got together six years ago to raise funds for small business loans to people around the world, who do not have access to traditional bank loans. The money is raised by making and selling bird houses.
The D.U.D.E.S., with assistance from Nott and McConville, are currently raising funds to send "clean cook stoves" to the village of Dojam, in Nepal, where the per capita income is $17 a year, and one in three children die before their fifth birthday. The stoves will replace open campfires used in the village's small dirt-floor homes for heating and cooking.
The clean stoves will reduce respiratory illnesses in women and children caused by smokey indoor open fires, and eliminate burns suffered by children falling into open cooking fires.
Daybreak Durango Rotarian Rick Legrand, who has been to Nepal, says the smoke in the small homes is overwhelming.
"What these Yosemite High students have done is amazing, " Legrand said.
The boys challenged Nott and McConville, both members of the Rotary Club sponsored Interact Club, to raise $500 for the project. McLean and Mendoza raised $670 cutting, splitting, and delivering firewood.
For their senior project, Nott and McConville coordinated an enchilada dinner and 35-item silent auction Nov. 8 at the Oakhurst Community Center, raising nearly $1,500. Those funds will be added to McLean and Mendoza's $670, for a total of $2,170. The Oakhurst morning and noon Rotary clubs will contribute to the fund.
The dinner was made possible by a family friend of Nott's, Russ Johnson, who made chicken and tri-tip enchiladas, refried beans, and Spanish rice. In addition to ticket sales and the auction, money was raised by selling a variety of desserts made by Nott and MConville.
"We learned of this great global project and it hit home with me, " Nott said, "and I decided that I wanted to be a part of the fundraising efforts. I'd like to thank the D.U.D.E.S. for challenging us, and the community for supporting our efforts."
"We had the opportunity to do a senior project to help families in need who are less fortunate than the families in our community, " McConville added.