Bolles alumni bring joy to African orphans

Three Bolles Class of 2013 graduates traveled to Africa this summer to support the Riverside-based McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation’s global outreach efforts in Uganda, Africa. Jacqueline Flynn (San Jose), Sarah Bates (Avondale), and Grace Marrese (where) spent more than two weeks with children of the foundation’s Amaka ga McKenzie, or “McKenzie’s Home,” orphanages. The orphanage facilities are named in the memory of Bolles student McKenzie Wilson, who passed away in 2010 and would have been part of the Class of 2013.
“The trip was an eye-opening experience especially seeing the poverty – the bond we formed with the orphans are ones that no matter what, will never be broken,” said Flynn, who is studying biological science at Florida State University this fall. “The time with the kids was very important to me because I wanted to make sure each and every one of them knew that they were loved regardless if they had a mom or dad.”

Bates, a University of Georgia freshman who was the former president of Club Kenzie at Bolles, described her involvement with the foundation as a way to still feel close to her good friend McKenzie – and help others at the same time. She said the group helped orphans with their chores once they returned from school in the afternoon.

Jacqueline Flynn, Sarah Bates and Grace Marrese spent time at an African orphanage in memory of classmate McKenzie Wilson

Jacqueline Flynn, Sarah Bates and Grace Marrese spent time at an African orphanage in memory of classmate McKenzie Wilson

“They had to hand wash their school uniforms and shine their shoes every single day, and I never heard the slightest complaint while they were doing it,” Bates said. She enjoyed playing soccer with the children during their down time while others spent the rest of the day reading or drawing with the orphans before attending evening worship sessions and dinner. “There are so many memories that will forever be imbedded in my mind, particularly watching the kids worship before dinner – they play the drums and sing praises at the top of their lungs. These kids have nothing compared to all of us back in the States but to them, they have God, and that is all they ever need.”

All three Bolles alumni who visited Uganda were grateful to have been given the opportunity to support McKenzie’s mission at school, and to have lived it out through their summer experience.

“By Bolles being so welcoming to McKenzie’s foundation and it essentially being the ‘home base’ for Club Kenzie, my trip to Uganda felt so rewarding,” Flynn said. “I felt as if I had the entire community of Bolles for support because going to a Third World country to me was terrifying. But in the end, I could not have asked it to go any more perfect than it did.”

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