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February 11, 2014

Local residents travel to Bura this month

NEWBURYPORT — Four members of the Newburyport community will be in Bura, Kenya, Newburyport’s Sister City, this month. Each will be working on a different facet of the sister city relationship established by the Greater Newburyport/Bura Alliance (GNBA) in 1992.

The travelers are Dr. Suzanne Abkowitz-Crawford, Katie Nye and her son, Miguel, and Sandra Thaxter.

Abkowitz- Crawford will be taking a donated centrifuge, microscope, medical supplies and soccer balls and equipment with her. The medical equipment and supplies are for the Mwashuma Clinic, a rural health center that GNBA helped build and equip. The clinic provides care for residents who previously had to walk 6 miles for medical assistance.

Soccer balls will be provided to schools throughout the Bura community. These balls, called “One World Futbols,” are especially durable and have been designed to withstand rough playing fields that are often found in the developing world.

GNBA has sponsored an annual soccer tournament for the Bura schools for the past six years. The tournament was inspired by Matthew Crawford during his visit to Bura at the age of 10. After he saw that the kids were playing soccer with balls of trash and plastic bags, he was inspired to collect soccer balls to send to Bura. Now the program involves 600 children from 10 schools and the yearly tournament inspires the whole community. There are 600 certificates and many trophies (also being hand carried) to be awarded at this year’s final match.

Katie Nye’s particular interest is the development of environmental awareness in Bura and Newburyport. She will be working on a tree-planting program established to help arrest erosion on the steeply sloping hillsides of Bura. Miguel, who is 6 years old and attends the River Valley Charter School’s Kinderhaus, will be meeting Bura Primary School students and communicating with his Kinderhaus class via the Internet. Katie and Miguel will carry correspondence from RVCS’ student tree committee, who assist with tree planting in Newburyport, in the hopes of developing a lasting relationship between environmentally minded students in the two sister cities. Nye will also meet with the Mseto Orphans Committee, a women’s self-help group that partners with GNBA to care for and educate Bura’s most vulnerable children.

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