Forest Charter School student turns class project into charity to feed Afghan refugees | SierraSun.com

Forest Charter School student turns class project into charity to feed Afghan refugees

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

When 14-year-old Amelia Mullin was given an assignment in her ninth grade human geography class at Forest Charter School over the spring, the project was meant to be theoretical.

The assignment — find a solution to global hunger.

While the requirements were simply to explore the idea and present it to the class, Mullin didn't stop there. She discussed various possibilities with her mother, Lisa Petrucci, and began to design a method of feeding those in need that would eventually be completely self-sustaining. The plan was to supply hungry families abroad with chickens, along with grain and chicken coops.

Mullin shared the idea with a family friend Abdul Ahmadzai who suggested feeding refugees in his home city of Kabul, Afghanistan. He introduced her to his nephew Ajmal Hasrat, who has worked with the Afghan government and has been volunteering at refugee camps for the past few years donating food and blankets. Currently these camps are packed with those who have fled the northern part of Afghanistan seeking safety from violence and terrorism that continues to plague the country. According to Hasrat, each camp consists of 400 to 500 people.

"We've been hearing from our friends for years about the challenges over there for along time," said Petrucci. "We wanted to see if we could come up with a model where we don't have to keep pumping money into it."

The group spent the month of March working out logistics, building the financial model and targeting the poorest of three refugee camps in Kabul.

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Mullin initially raised $1,450 through contributions from her family and others in Kabul. With that money she was able to supply over 550 hens, giving 20 families around 30 chickens each along with chicken feed and a coop, averaging around $70 per family.

The group sent the money to Kabul which was used to purchase the 5-month-old hens and supplies. Shortly after they were able to contribute additional funding toward more feed so that the hens could start producing eggs.

Each week the chickens produce about five to six eggs each which the families can not only survive on but sell in order to buy other supplies. With the idea of creating a small profit for refugee families that will spread among the camp, the group made an agreement with the families in which they will give back three hens every six months so the hens can be donated to another family in need. This way the initial 20 families can supply two new families with 30 more chickens in September.

Petrucci said the success of the project has prompted Hasrat to speak with the Afghan government about introducing the program in other refugee camps.

"What's incredible is that she's changed the lives of 20 families, and its meaningful," she added.

"The entire project was supposed to be theoretical," said Mullin. "It was very unexpected. I did not think it would get this far."

Mullin has worked for the past few months at Truckee Love, contributing part of her earnings to the project. In addition Larissa Morlett and Missy Hedrik, owners of the local clothing store, have agreed to donate additional funds toward the next group of families.

Both Mullin and her mother are still in the process of raising more funds to support the other two refugee camps in Kabul. They recently started a GoFundMe campaign and once they have enough money they'll supply another 20 families with chickens. The two plan to give a report on the project in the fall to Forest Charter School, which has pledged to help expand the program if it continues its success over the summer.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.