A Chico charity is working to collect the last bit of money to help build a real school house for children in West Africa.
Natalie Huberman's efforts to help school children in West Africa began after she returned from a trip to Togo with her husband.
"It was something about the people. They captured my heart," Huberman said.
Huberman says after searching the internet for ways to donate to the region she decided to start her own charity called LeapingStone in 2007.
The organization began raising money to build schoolhouses in the villages, where many students studied under an open-sided thatched roof building through summer heat, sand storms and even monsoons.
"They really needed something that where they could hold classes year round. A proper school," Huberman said.
After collecting the first $25,000, LeapingStone was able to build a new schoolhouse in the village of Dèdèké complete with three classrooms and an office for teachers provided by the local catholic organization.
"LeapingStone stays connected to the village for three years to make sure they are doing well," Huberman said.
Huberman says she also works with other groups in the area to teach villagers about budgets and other skills that make them self sustaining, that way she can move on to help children in other villages.
"I never start something before I have the funds available," Huberman said.
That is why Huberman is working hard to raise the final $4,000 needed to break ground on a new schoolhouse in the village of Tsati, which she is hoping can happen sometime in the coming months.
Huberman says the organization is volunteer-based, so all of the money raised goes directly to the construction projects.