Bergstrom, now 19, was a historian for Hillcrest High's student government and was instrumental in changing the lives of these and many other Ouelessebougou natives.
Every year the student government at Hillcrest organized a fundraiser to help those in need. Normally, it would partner with an organization like The Make A Wish Foundation. This year, however, the students wanted something different. They turned their attention to the little-known region of Ouelessebougou, specifically the village of Djemene, and partnered with the Ouelessebougou Alliance. After they raised $13,000, the village had proper vaccinations, and new schools were built.
The students were not able to visit Mali, so the natives, already in town for the fundraiser, came to them. Bergstrom recalls when they came into her classroom to express gratitude and share their experiences.
"I'll never forget that day," Bergstrom said. "It was so great to see them personally thank us for everything we did."
This was a thank-you that was much more interactive and more meaningful for some than a picture or a postcard, said Kami Tressler, SBO for Hillcrest
"They made it really personable for our students," she said. "It was great for them to see that their money was going toward something bigger than themselves."
Hillcrest High School and the Ouelessebougou region of Mali are separated by thousands of miles, but on this day they were closely connected.
"It was a really humbling experience to help people who did not have nearly as much as I did," she said. "It was one of my favorite memories of senior year that will always stick with me."
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