Fall Creek resident Jennifer Cheeseman had no idea that sponsoring one Ugandan child through the World Vision organization eight years ago would lead her to establish a nonprofit organization that would build a school for more than 400 Ugandan children. The nonprofit, Sunlight Mission, was established by Cheeseman and her husband, Mike, after the couple became aware of a need for a new school for the Ugandan child they sponsored, Esther, and the other students in her community. "We started sponsoring Esther to help with her school fees and medical care. My kids and I started writing letters to her and got to know her family. We were able to help the family in several ways," said Cheeseman. In addition to monthly support, the help included raising $4,500 to build Esther's family a home and $50 to purchase the family a cow, which has since produced four additional cows for the family. Last year, the Cheeseman's were able to go to Uganda and meet Esther's family and see the existing school, Calvary Junior Academy, in Nakyeni Parish, Lwengo District, Southwestern Uganda. "The existing school, was in the town, adjacent to the church. It was about half an acre, and had 400 students and 16 teachers. We kept feeling like we could help," said Cheeseman. The couple decided to start a nonprofit to raise the funds to build a new school. The first step was the purchase of eight acres of land near town, for $8,000. The next step was raising the $30,000 needed to build the new school buildings. To raise the funds, last summer, the Cheeseman family completed an event dubbed "Climbing for Calvary". Cheeseman, together with her husband and their three children; Grant, 7, Isabel, 9 and Zachary, 10, and a few other friends, climbed nine mountains in Colorado in three days. "We had hundreds of people sponsor us for the climb. [Zachary] climbed four mountains in one day, over 14,000 feet," she said."The climb was a challenge for everyone. It pushes your physical and mental limits. You don't see a lot of kids on those fourteeners, so you start talking to the people around you and the kids told people 'We are climbing for Calvary!'" This summer, the Cheeseman family is doing the Climb for Calvary again. "We are climbing August 1-3 and this time we are going to hike a certain number of miles. The area we are going to doesn't have as many fourteeners, so we are going to hike a number of miles," said Cheeseman. The money raised from last year's Climb for Calvary has been used to build permanent, brick structures at the new school, with a roof and plaster. Cheeseman said they are now working to raise funds to provide pay for the teachers and to provide students with one meal a day, which many of the students would not otherwise receive. Last year, Cheeseman worked with Fall Creek Elementary Principal Yvonne Stroud to connect the students at Fall Creek with the students at Calvary. The students at both schools have exchanged letters and the students at Fall Creek raised $1,000 to buy porridge cups and lunch for a day for all of the Calvary students. Cheeseman said the kids at Fall Creek are amazed at how little their Ugandan pen pals have, but yet they are so happy and so excited to hear from their Fall Creek friends. "It's been an amazing learning experience for the Fall Creek kids, to see how simple of a life those kids live and yet how happy they are. It's been a really neat thing for the school," said Cheeseman. "It has shown me that so much is possible when you decide you are going to help another community or person. We have been able to involve our community, our family and our friends," she said. More funds are needed for the ongoing operation of the school and to provide meals for the students. More information can be found at sunlightmission.org/home.html. Cutliine: Fall Creek Elementary students show the letters they have received from students of Calvary Junior Academy in Uganda. Back row: William Euston, third grade; Dalton Ellis, second grade; Grant Cheeseman, second grade; Zachary Cheeseman, fifth grade; and Ryan Lamont, fifth grade. Front row: Emma Poston, fourth grade; Morgan Ellis, fourth grade; Isabel Cheeseman, fourth grade; Patrick Euston, first grade; and Georgia Lamont, second grade. Submitted Photo

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