GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO (Grand Junction Free Press) - At 23, Connor Jandreau of Mesa is already making a positive difference in the world. After a trip to Kenya, Jandreau started a nonprofit called HeART Africa that combines his love of art with raising money to fund secondary education for orphans in the East African country.
Jandreau is good at setting goals — and one of those goals as a Colorado State University student was to study abroad. So he enrolled in Boston's School for Field Studies to learn and work in Africa.
Jandreau spent four months in Kenya in 2009, working on wildlife conservation issues outside Amboseli National Park. During his time there, he also visited an orphanage in Loitokitok, Kenya, which was home to 22 children aged 9-18.
Most of the children's parents had died of AIDS, while other children had been relinquished simply because their parents could not afford to feed them, Jandreau said.
Last winter Jandreau returned to Africa to work and study in Tanzania, where he collaborated with a team who sought to mitigate conflicts between wildlife and humans owning livestock near Tarangire National Park.
Jandreau again visited the orphanage in neighboring Kenya.
“We'd go and visit the kids periodically during the four months,” Jandreau said. “We'd play soccer, donate food, other essentials.”
Education is important to Jandreau. He graduated from CSU in May, majoring in both art and fish/wildlife/conservation biology.
Education beyond elementary school is not free for Kenyans, and when Jandreau learned the children growing up in the orphanage would not likely be able to continue their schooling, he decided to do something about it. He came home and started a nonprofit called HeART Africa for the purpose of raising funds to pay for the orphans' secondary education.
HeART Africa's first fundraising event, “Art to Educate” — a gallery exposition and art sale — will take place from 5-9 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St.
More than 20 local artists will be selling artwork, with a portion of the proceeds — in some cases 100 percent — going toward HeART Africa for the Kenyan Youth Education Fund. Some of the artists include Gerald Fritzler, Gayle Gerson, Chuck Morris, George Callison, Ellen Wilson and Helen Stenmark.
Jandreau will also show his own artwork, including oil paintings inspired by his travels in North America and Africa. Jandreau also submitted photography and three-dimensional sculptures that will all be for sale.
Another Colorado-based nonprofit, Light Gives Heat — a group that works to provide jobs for Ugandan women — will be selling Ugandan beadwork and other artwork at the event.
Plum Creek Winery has donated wine to sell as a fundraiser, and Palisade Altrusa Club has donated hors d'oeuvres for the event.
Jandreau's goal is to raise $10,000 by January, when he plans to return to Kenya to distribute the money. He anticipates by then there will be 13 boys and girls ready for secondary school.
Jandreau was recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which he will apply this fall to a Master's program in natural resource management at the University of Manitoba. The scholarship will also help fund field research in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, where Jandreau plans to study community-based conservation measures in the area.
He'll work specifically with communities seeking to mitigate conflicts between humans and wildlife.
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Updated 299 days ago Article ID# 1699123