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Members of SonRise Church in Unity assist Kenyans

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Derry Area High School teacher Michelle Dorazio and her husband, Nicholas Dorazio, went to Kenya to teach basic physics to high school students and provide in-service training for teachers. At left is Derry Area Middle School teacher Mike Moximchalk, president of the Derry Area Education Association, and Dorazio. The DAEA presented Dorazio with a check to help defray expenses.

A Derry Area teacher and her husband were surprised by the reaction of someone receiving a toothbrush who had only used straw for the task before.

Michelle and Nicholas Dorazio traveled with nine other members of SonRise Church on Frye Farm Road in Unity to an orphanage and school in Taita Hills, Kenya, for nine days in May.

Each of the volunteers was asked to make the trip across the world by Bishop Dickson Ochuto, who visited the Unity church last June.

He asked Michelle Dorazio to impart some of her knowledge as a teacher at Derry Area High School and Nicholas Dorazio to use his skills with computers as owner of Greensburg IT company LVTech.

“I think it meant a lot to them that we traveled around the world to see them,” Michelle Dorazio said.

Once she alerted Derry Area School District of the trip, she received donations from Superintendent David Welling, her fellow teachers and the Derry Area Education Association totaling about $2,000 to help pay for her expenses and supplies for the children at the school.

Welling said he and his wife have supported others who have traveled to do mission work and feel the work is important.

“When you see the extreme poverty and conditions around the world, I think it's fortunate that people care,” he said.

The physics and physical science teacher said she was grateful for the support as well as the opportunity granted her by the school district.

The group brought school supplies, medicine, hygiene products and toys like soccer balls for the 47 children at the orphanage and 200 at the school to use.

Nicholas Dorazio also took donated used laptops for the school.

Both he and his wife had never been across the Atlantic Ocean before.

Nicholas Dorazio said after seeing how the culture is so different, including limited access to electricity and running water, he felt he has a clearer perspective on how privileged Americans are.

“You hear that and you know it intellectually, but until you actually do it, you really don't know,” he said.

The group flew to Mombasa, where they visited churches and youth groups with Ochuto, then took a five-hour bus trip.

“We're very grateful to have stop signs,” Michelle Dorazio said of the hectic Kenyan traffic.

After arriving at Heartbeat High School and Ngamwa Heartbeat Community Children's Home and Rescue Center, the group toured the facilities, met with teachers and children, then helped distribute their donations.

Nicholas Dorazio helped with computer software while Michelle Dorazio met with teachers about incorporating science curriculum into their teaching.

He said he was grateful to be able to share knowlege, more than material items, with the volunteers and teachers at the school.

The pair said Ochuto himself was an orphan and wanted to give back to children in a similar situation.

SonRise Church sponsors students at the school for $20 per month, so the Dorazios and the rest of the church group were glad to meet the children they support and discuss ways to further improve the school for the next trip the group is already planning.

“It's amazing how far a U.S. dollar goes,” Michelle Dorazio said, adding that with that funding, students are able to have meat in the meals once per week.

Because no physics or chemistry curriculum is included in regular study, Michelle Dorazio may teach a unit of the sciences to students when she returns.

The group also included Nicholas Dorazio's sister and her husband, Stephanie and Charlie Pienaar of Unity, as well as the Rev. David Foster and his wife Jennifer, Bob and Holly Shaffer of Unity and Theresa Vitigoy of Ruffsdale.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.