The school in the Kenyan slum is a tin shack with makeshift classrooms separated by a single chalkboard.
Out in the school yard, three stones formed the kitchen.
Gataka, one of the slums where a group of area college students and Mount Pleasant videographer Laura Shelton spent spring break, was a place where children played in trash piles lining the streets because the poor there can't afford garbage pickup.
Images of those children and their living conditions flash frequently across the minds of Brian VanderSchauw and his fellow travelers.
"Once you've seen it, you cannot ignore it," VanderSchauw said.
Months ago, VanderSchauw of Mount
Pleasant, Capers Rumph of Sullivan's Island, and Stephen Eggers, Leighton Gelders and Fritz Stine, all of Charleston, and photographer Tad Yancheski set out to raise funds to buy land and build a permanent school for orphaned children. They found support from Ongata Rongai Christian Women Works of Charity.
Rumph came up with the idea after spending a summer volunteering at the school through the Global Volunteer Network. Many of the children assisted by the charity were orphaned because of the AIDS epidemic.
"She couldn't forget about the children," Shelton said.
Rumph told friends Stine and Eggers about the students and their needs when she reunited with them at the College of Charleston last fall.
"She said that they were trying to build a new school," Eggers said. "We decided to try and raise the money ourselves."
Gelders, a College of Charleston student, and VanderSchauw, who attends Trident Technical College, also learned of the trip and wanted to come along.
Students raised $13,000 by hosting college parties.
However, post-election violence in the African country in the first few months of 2008 put a damper on plans. Six others dropped out of the trip, unsure of what to expect. Friends told the seven who insisted on making the trip that they were crazy and warned that they could be killed. "I was going on faith," Shelton said.
When Shelton and the rest of the party arrived in Africa, they discovered that a plot of land they hoped to buy was no longer available. Still wanting to do something, the students built a better kitchen for the tin school.
Rumph, who is currently in Germany, said in an e-mail that she was concerned about the children with the rainy season approaching.
They had been cooking over a fire pit outside for the 60 children there. With a more permanent kitchen, volunteers still could continue to feed these children two meals a day.
"(It was) the only food that most of them get," Rumph wrote.
And in another slum about an hour away, the group built a wall of rocks and concrete around another school in Ongata Rongai, where the Christian charity is based.
Footage from part of the students' trip appeared on an mtvU broadcast.
VanderSchauw entered the trip into an MTV spring break contest to showcase college students who spend their time doing something other than going to traditional beach parties.
"The point of it was to make a change," VanderSchauw said.
Just a few minutes of footage from the two-week trip were included in the broadcast, but Shelton of DVD Video Production Service has hours more. She wants to use the footage to encourage giving by area groups.
Back home again, the students continue to raise funds, so they can build the children a permanent school.
"It wasn't a place where kids could learn," VanderSchauw said.
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