Kennett resident Matthew Goeller knows that change is going to come one small drop at a time.
Especially in places like Ghana and Ecuador, where the 24-year-old educator has spent some time helping in schools that lacked the most basic of supplies.
“The schools there are definitely underfunded,” Goeller said. “And it’s more than just no chalk or no pencils or paper – in some cases, the windows are broken and the walls are crumbling.”
Since returning from overseas last summer, Goeller has created the Global Education Network in an effort to mitigate those needs, helping in whatever way he can.
Although the non-profit agency is only working with two schools currently, Goeller hopes to expand the scope to include needy schools wherever they are identified.
The impetus, he said, started in Ecuador, where Goeller said he worked and lived with the students there, giving him a much broader picture of the problems those families face on a day to day basis.
“You realize that they’re struggling so much for something, for a need that really simple to serve,” Goeller said. “For me, and those of us living in Kennett, $20 a month for a kid to go to school seems a fairly easy need to fill against the perspective of our own lives.”
During his stay in Ghana, Goeller said that the laptop he brought with him was the first such device many of the children had ever seen – especially since there wasn’t even any internet service in the village.
“I showed the just the most basic stuff on my computer, and they were so impressed,” Goeller said.
When Goeller returned stateside, he immediately set about collecting goods to send back to the two schools, organizing collections at his ala mater Upland – where Goeller teaches a class and coaches ice hockey.
He also successfully collected enough money to purchase two computers for the school in Ghana, helping them start a school-wide computer curriculum.
“Watching kids use a computer for the first time ever was quite an experience,” Goeller said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like putting fingers down on a computer for the first time, with no concept or reference point.”
Goeller knows his plans are ambitious, but he also knows that the needs he’s encountered are simple enough to fulfill – it just takes time.
“Their tales are very inspiring,” Goeller said. “This is starting small, but I want to see it broaden to many different places.”
He added that he’s currently working with schools in Nepal, Kenya, and Chile, where his organization – Global Education Network – is sending money to complete the construction of new school buildings, help offset healthcare and tuition costs and building an English Language Center at a secondary school in Santiago.
“These things are not that big of a deal to you and I, but to these kids it means the world,” he said.
To learn more, or to donate time, goods or funds visit: wwwglobaleducationnetworkonline.org