Moved by the dismal conditions in which children had to study, she raised over $14,825 for the school and helped build a new indoor classroom.
First lady Melania Trump's "Be Best" campaign has long been a prime target for her critics. However, for the Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi, this very initiative has been a godsend. The 49-year-old's visit to the struggling school in October 2018 trip paved the way for the institution receiving a brand new indoor classroom thanks to Carolina Hurley, a White House staffer, who accompanied the first lady on her four-country visit to Africa. Moved by the dismal conditions in which children had to study, she raised over $14,825 for the school and helped build a new indoor classroom.
Speaking to Fox News, Hurley said, "I saw these children who sit outside all day because there wasn't enough room for them to learn inside. Once the rainy season starts, kids would stop coming to school." With an enrollment of over 9,000 students and only 77 teachers—i.e. 1 teacher for every 118 children—Hurley learned that the children often have to take their classes sitting shoulder-to-shoulder outdoors on loose, red dirt. Wanting to make things easier for the school, she set up a GoFundMe page for an indoor classroom and also took separate donations from friends and family.
"Malawi made my heart stop from the minute I got there. It was completely eye-opening to me to see such incredible children -- over 9,000 of them -- with absolutely nothing to their name except for a desire to learn. I left knowing that if I could even make a dent in helping them learn, I'd be happy knowing I contributed to something bigger than myself. Little did I know just how generous complete strangers could be," she said. Hurley kept in close contact with the headmistress of the school when she returned to America and was able to send the first group of donations in January 2019.
Construction of the new classroom began soon after and was recently completed. First lady Melania congratulated Hurley on Twitter, writing, After my trip to Africa, a member of our advance team raised money on her own time to get a new classroom built for the Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi. Thank you, Carolina, for showing what it means to #BeBest! Hurley revealed the trip to Africa changed her life forever and expressed gratitude to everyone who made the indoor classroom a possibility.
After my trip to Africa, a member of our advance team raised money on her own time to get a new classroom built for the Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi. Thank you Carolina, for showing what it means to #BeBest! @CLH45 pic.twitter.com/zx9CreJGYv— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 2, 2020
"Never in my life did I think someone like me could bring so many people together to change the lives of thousands of kids, and even further to be recognized by the first lady of the United States. The fact that I was chosen to make this trip has forever changed my life, and I'm eternally grateful for this beautiful country. The United States has made my dreams come true, and I'm grateful for my fellow Americans who worked with me to help make the dreams of these young Malawians a reality," she said.