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Teacher receives DAR award for work with blind students in Africa

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By Sandy Barnes

For the past three summers, Evergreen resident Nancy Knight has traveled to a remote area of Sierra Leone, where she has worked with blind students at a school in the impoverished country.

As a teacher of visually impaired students at Heritage High School in Littleton, Knight said she has had many memorable experiences. However, working with students in a remote African village has been incredibly rewarding, she said.

“It’s a huge gift to me,” she said. “We feel like we are really making a difference.”

For her efforts, Knight was selected recently as the National First Place Literacy winner by the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is a member of the Mountain Rendezvous chapter of the DAR.

Knight said she first learned about the opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone from a student, Carissa Ortega, who told her about a project in which Heritage students were involved called Operation Classroom. Students from the high school had just completed building a school in Kabala, a small village in Sierra Leone, in 2010.

“Another project that was being completed at the same time by Operation Classroom was the construction of a small school for the blind, also in Kabala,” said Knight.

“We decided, ‘We’ve got to go!’ “

“Carissa heard of the challenges these kids face, and it wasn’t long before Carissa was fully engaged in raising funds for the trip in addition to purchasing supplies for the lovely but deprived little school,” Knight said. “Our friends, family and churches supported us with prayer, supplies, Braille books and money for travel expenses.

Since the initial trip in 2010, Knight has returned to Kabala each summer during June.

One of her goals for the future is to help blind students learn a craft so they won’t spend their lives begging.