Madagascar trip awaits Carbon County teenager
As the summer stretches out here in Carbon County, most 13-year-old boys are finishing up a little baseball and getting ready for the dog days of August. Jax Kraync has different plans. After reading "Do Hard Things," and receiving a little push from his mentor, the young man is headed for a life- changing experience in Madagascar - ring tail lemurs and all.
"My mentor wanted me to do something difficult like we had about read in the book and I couldn't really figure out anything to do," explained Jax. "So she started telling about her friend and the difficult work she is doing in Africa."
As Jax and his brothers and sisters are home schooled, parents Karl and Amy Kraync are always on the lookout for ways to provide their kids with the best resources and opportunities available. For Jax, one of those resources happens to be his mentor Olivia Votaw. Her connections to the non-profit organization Small Candles would propel Jax into this adventure.
"She explained about her friend Daniela Larsen and how she was going to Madagascar to work on several service projects," said Jax. "It was amazing how quickly she went from telling me about her friend to telling me about how great it would be if I could go with her."
As Votaw explained, Jax learned that Small Candles not only works on project in the African country, they also own a school there. A school where individuals of any age can learn.
"Education is vital in Madagascar. From what I have learned, adult illiteracy is as high as 70 percent throughout the county," he explained. "They also live on less than a single dollar a day for an entire family."
In addition to their literacy goals, Small Candles will be working to improve opportunities and set up a computer lab at the school. To accomplish this, the group will spend two days in Paris, France in order to acquire the computer equipment needed to set up the lab.
"I am really excited to spend some time in Paris," said Jax with a big smile. "I learned that their power cycle is different, so we have to buy the computers in Europe, computers from the United States won't work over there."
The Small Candles school in La Manoro teaches both children and adults to provide both students and their families with more opportunity. The school gives instruction on many topics from health care to community gardening and literacy. Working to improve several aspects of local life.
In Madagascar, the group also has economic development project working. One such project allows US citizens to assist in a loan process allowing locals to obtain their own rickshaw. Most drivers in the African country must rent their vehicle, which claims a high percentage of their profits. Providing loans to buy a rickshaw allows whole families to become independent.
While the trip will be a great learning experience for Jax, his parents have insured that he learned the value of paying for his own ticket to ride.
"I have had to earn all the money needed to go," explained Jax. "I have been working on my dad's farm for six hours a day and I also conducted a read-a-thon.
The read-a-thon earned Jax $1,600 from various Castle Country businesses as the young man pledged to read 1,500 pages in one marathon five day period.
The Kraync family has six total children with three in home-school right now and plans to teach all six at home.
"This is a great fit for our family," explained Amy Kraync, Jax's mother. "I went to school to become a teacher and it has been great fun to teach my own kids."
The Kraync's explained that home-school also provides their family with the freedom to put the educational focus on things that the kids want to learn and are interested in. It also allows the family to spend time together even if Karl is working out of the state.
"Karl travels quite a bit and when it works out we get to take our books and travel with him," said Amy. "My kids have gotten to see a lot of the world because we can do that."
According to Amy, the opportunities and resources available for home schooled children and their parents do increase all the time. The diversity allowed within the home curriculum is also a bonus.
"Last year I was able to take a course in robotics which I loved," said Jax. "Next year, I am going to start learning about computer programing, I like homeschooling because of the freedom."
During his trip to Africa, Jax will be chaperoned by a return missionary who served in Madagascar previously and was excited to go back. The Kraync's are helping to pay his way back in order to insure Jax's safety.
When one considers that the 13 year-old will be flying for nearly 30 hours, the need for a chaperon becomes clear. Also clear, at least to Jax is the discrepancy between wealth between the United States and Madagascar.
"I have seen that their homes still have dirt floors and are very small," he said. "It makes you appreciate what you have.