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East Ridge students reach out internationally

The first aid kits that students assembled included such medical supplies as bandages, antibiotic cream and thermometers. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)1 / 2
The first aid kits that students assembled included such medical supplies as bandages, antibiotic cream and thermometers. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)2 / 2

East Ridge High School science teacher Nancy Berg left for a trip to India on Saturday, but she brought more with her than just luggage.

Berg will be distributing 150 first aid kits that students in her biomedical engineering class assembled to children who live in the slums of Delhi. 

The first aid kits include bandages, antibiotic cream, toothpaste, toothbrush, Q-tips, thermometers, combs, soap and pictorial lessons on how to brush your teeth and how to take care of a wound.

“These items that we take for granted can save lives,” East Ridge freshman Callie Kahrer said. “A little cut could kill them.”

“These simple bags could mean life or death for these people,” East Ridge freshman Lucas Windingstad said.

Seeing the slums

Berg, who will be in India through Jan. 1, said her trip came about because a close friend’s daughter is currently teaching English at a school, called Tender Hearts, in the slums of Delhi.

“I’ve been to India before, but you would not venture into the slums on your own,” she said, “so, to have a person with connections is a much more secure situation.”

During her 10-day trip, Berg will spend most of her time volunteering at the school, but she will also be purchasing medical supplies to donate.

“It’s interesting how these people can survive on basically nothing and they have for centuries,” she said.

Additionally, Berg will take in some of the sites in India such as the Taj Mahal, the “Pink City” of Jaipur and the holy city of Varanasi.

Making a difference

Part of the curriculum in Berg’s biomedical engineering class, which is a Project Lead the Way course, is that students must participate in some sort of community service opportunity.

In the past, students have passed out informational brochures, but since she was already going to India, Berg said she thought this offered an opportunity for students.

“It’s really important, more today than ever, that kids have a global outlook and they know what’s going on outside their own little world,” she said. “It’s not all about them.”

For the first aid kits, all 114 of Berg’s students brought in their own money, totaling $815, to purchase the supplies and then students worked to pack the kits.

The kits will be distributed to students, ages 4 to 13, in and around the slums.

“Many of them are homeless and they don’t have parents a lot of them – a lot of them are street kids,” she said. “A lot of them live in the landfills.

“These supplies are going to areas of extreme poverty.”

Berg said she is proud of her students’ willingness to give back.

“Students can make a difference,” she said. “Even though you may think you are so far away from these people, you’re really not.

“A $5 donation can make a bag of supplies that can possibly save a kid’s life – it’s a reality check for students.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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