The Californian

One Dollar For Life raising funds for developing countries

Narges Torabi, Staff Writer

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One Dollar for Life (ODFL) is in its second year of being at Cal High and gives students an opportunity to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

ODFL is a Non-Governmental Organization that helps fund and implement projects such as schools, water wells, irrigation systems, sanitary waste disposal, vaccinations, and other low cost projects worldwide.

Through students’ donations of $1, ODFL has completed more than 90 projects in seven of the poorest countries, such as Kenya, Nepal and Haiti.

“So many children would do anything to have the education that we have,” said senior and current ODFL president Mira Qureshi.“It’s important that, instead of taking our education for granted, we do what we can to give back to communities that don’t have the opportunities that we have.”

Just over the past two weeks at Cal, ODFL has helped raise approximately $3,000, which will go toward building libraries at multiple schools in Nicaragua this summer.

The founder, Robert Freeman, is working with high school students on the West Coast to change the world one project at a time. 

As a teacher at Las Altos High School in Mountain View, Freeman overheard his students complain about how bad the world was. 

“I said, ‘You know if you each did a little bit you’d probably rock the world,’” said Freeman, who spoke at Cal’s winter rally in January.

When Freeman heard his students say this he didn’t know what measures he would take to execute his ideas, but he knew he wanted to increase student involvement and awareness. He began by speaking at five different schools to spread his message.

“I told them if they could each donate a dollar I’ll get a classroom built for you in Africa,” said Freeman.

ODFL raised enough money to complete its first service project in the summer of 2007. 

“Every single dollar donated goes straight to the cause,” said Freeman.

Two years ago, Freeman made an appearance at Cal and spoke with AP Statistics teacher Ghazala Niazi about the program.

“I was really moved and I decided that I wanted to do something with them,” said Niazi.

Niazi became Cal’s first ODFL adviser and has seen the club both grow and struggle throughout the years.

Her daughter, senior Humaira Niazi, became the club’s first president and helped ODFL raise money by collecting recyclables on campus. She took them to the recycling center where she waited in line for hours until she was able to collect the $400 for ODFL. 

Last summer, she and her mom volunteered to build a school in Matagalpa.

“I really got involved in the community,” Ghazala Niazi said. “I was able to connect to the people there, and I realized how easy we all have it.

“We live in such a comfortable environment and you only realize this when you leave it.”

Students also take part in annual summer programs and often come back with positive experiences and impactful memories.

Junior Michael Byrne, the club’s vice president and future president, went to Nicaragua for 10 days last summer and helped build a school with other student volunteers.

Byrne described his experience as a cultural shock.

“We really got to see how the other half lived,” Byrne said. “It makes a person so grateful for their privileges.”

Junior Jack Collins, ODFL’s future vice president, accompanied Byrne on the trip to Nicaragua. Both students plan on attending the 2018 summer projects located in Nicaragua and South Africa.

“The trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Collins.

Qureshi encourages students to join the club or help out one dollar at a time. Meetings are every Monday during lunch in room 217. 

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