The closing element to Eastside College Preparatory School’s philanthropy project was an awards ceremony at which all of the participating student groups shared what they learned about their selected organization with their fellow students and other audience members. After their presentation, the students presented giant checks to representatives of their chosen organizations. Paige Kaneb, a long-time friend and supporter, agreed to attend the ceremony on behalf of Tostan and express our thanks to all in attendance.

Paige and her family have been actively following and supporting the work of Tostan since 2008. Their interest and passion for community-led development inspired them to travel to Northern Senegal in 2009 and experience firsthand the community education and empowerment initiatives taking place in Tostan partner communities. Paige is a lawyer by profession, currently working as Supervising Attorney at the Northern California Innocence Project, where she works to help bring justice to wrongly-convicted people.

A message from Paige:

On Thursday, March 31, I attended a philanthropy celebration on behalf of Tostan. Seventh and eighth graders in groups of three or four presented non-profits working towards meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals that they had chosen to donate to. The students were amazing. They talked about how this experience had taught them that they could make a difference, that they could do it as children, and could continue to change the world throughout their lives. They talked about their organizations, why they chose that non-profit and what it did.

One of three group posters about Tostan

When it came to present Tostan, 14 students walked up on stage—all had chosen Tostan. One student spoke of how difficult it was for her to read about how women are treated differently in other countries and to learn that they don’t have the same rights as men. Another spoke of female genital cutting and how many young girls die from the procedure. They presented numbers, statistics and each of them discussed some of Tostan’s work and what this meant to them. I fought back tears a few times as I listened to them—so young and eager, but also so globally conscious, intelligent and enthusiastic.

They presented me with a giant check for $750, made out to Tostan, and next to the word “for” was written “being an amazing organization.” It was signed by all 14 students. The event and the students were inspiring, and I feel fortunate that I was able to go, listen to the students and accept this tremendous donation on behalf of Tostan, which really is an amazing organization.