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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
On Friday, student Mary Hatch looks over the artwork on a tent purchased and decorated by Cyprus High School students.

MAGNA — After learning about conflicts of the war-torn African region of Darfur, a class of history students at Cyprus High School decided they could make a difference.

"It makes me sick to think that there are people still out there who are racist against even their own people," said 16-year-old Sahara Tiatia. "We need to stop it before it gets worse."

For the past two weeks, a bucket has been passed around the school, eliciting more than $2,000 from students. The money was used to purchase a tent that will be displayed on the lawn at the White House in Washington, D.C., later this year before it is sent to a family currently forced to sleep in the forests of Africa.

"They're literally sleeping under the trees," Cyprus junior Candace Montague said.

Cyprus High joined forces with the Tents of Hope project, which is working to house refugee families in Darfur, a region of Sudan that has been torn apart by acts of genocide and government corruption for decades, resulting in a state of humanitarian emergency.

"I simply presented a lecture on the events in Darfur in correlation with the events that happened during the Holocaust over 50 years ago," said Cyprus history teacher Josh Adams. His students, he said, were perplexed to the point of wanting to help, and the relief project ensued with personal donations of time and money to put it all together.

"It's so much fun to see them catch this activist fever," he said. "It shows that as students they can be and do so much more than people always give them credit for."

The money raised by the students went to purchase the tent, which is large enough to house a small family, and painting supplies to decorate the future abode.

Brightly-colored handprints and faces flank the outer walls of the canvas abode, as well as inscriptions in Arabic saying "love everyone" and "the world gives hope."

"It feels good to be giving something back," Montague, 17, said. "It can give the kids hope and give someone a better chance for life."

Montague and her friends at Cyprus said the experience of collecting money and decorating the tent was such a success, they'll forever look for opportunities to help out, "especially when human lives are involved," she said. Animals are another cause near to their hearts, but the Tents of Hope project sparked an interest to a world outside of Magna and even the state of Utah.

"This is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives," Adams said. "This isn't something they'll do and forget."

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