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Holy Cross service project supports Afghani children

BY JEFF KUROWSKI, THE COMPASS



BAY SETTLEMENT — On Dec. 10, Holy Cross School students, faculty and staff welcomed a special visitor. Dr. Chad Zehms, a physician from Green Bay, appeared live by video conference from Afghanistan, where he is stationed with the U.S. Navy. Dr. Zehms, who has two nieces attending Holy Cross, fielded a wide range of student questions. He also shared his gratitude for the efforts of the school community. For its annual global service project, Holy Cross chose to support students in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Following the video conference, students, staff and volunteers quickly turned their attention to making blankets for the Afghani students. Holy Cross has sent 100 blankets and numerous school supplies, hats and mittens to Dr. Zehms for distribution. Monetary donations were also collected as part of the project and will be used for large item school supplies.

The German government funded the construction of a new school for the children in Kunduz, but school supplies were needed. The blankets serve the children who have to stay overnight at the school. Robin Jo Jensen, principal at Holy Cross, described the outreach project as the “perfect fit” because the students are able to make a connection with the children they are helping.

“We talk and talk about service and what our faith teaches us, but we want to make it real for them,” she said. “They can actually see the benefit of their work and what they are doing. It’s not just about us in Bay Settlement, our little community. We have to open our eyes and see a world view of what’s out there. We can no longer live in that vacuum. We are really trying to teach our kids to be world citizens for the good of the world, not just here.”

Dr. Zehms was hoping to arrange a video conference meeting between the Afghani children and the Holy Cross students, but the time difference makes it logistically difficult. Instead, he planned to interview the children answering questions from Holy Cross students and share the video. While life may appear to be much different in Afghanistan, Dr. Zehms emphasized in his first video visit that the children have much in common with their U.S. counterparts.

“They just want to go to school, get an education and enjoy good lives with their families,” he said. “They are just trying to do the same things you get to do.”

Dr. Zehms serves at a 20-bed hospital that features two operating and two dental rooms. The medical facility is staffed by the U.S. and a German surgical team. He expects to return home in April and promised a visit, in person, to Holy Cross School.

“Thank you for all your hard work,” said Dr. Zehms prior to signing off. “It gives me a lot of pride to be able to tell these kids that the children in America care about them.”

Reprinted with permission from the The Compass. Story by Jeff Kurowski. Photos by Rick Evans.

The Compass newspaper offers a lively mix of local, national and international Catholic news along with columns, spiritual reflections, and weekly Scripture readings. In the last 10 years, The Compass has received more than 33 CPA awards. For subscription information, please click here.

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