By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Recently graduated Hudson High School senior Meghan Cadden and her teacher June Murray first discussed the idea of providing scholarships to Peruvian children while sailing down the Amazon River on a school trip this spring. By June, that conversation had grown into a charity called Contra La Corriente.
In English, “Contra La Corriente” means “Against the Current.” The charity was formed in partnership with guides from Explorama, an organization that has led several groups of Hudson students on trips to Peru in recent years. By 2018, the nonprofit hopes to raise $1,000 in donations, enough to help send two students from remote Amazon villages to high school in the city of Iquitos, Peru. Without the scholarships, very few students from those communities would have any opportunity to continue their education.
“One night, one of our guides talked to the whole group about how it’s hard to see how much potential these kids have but there’s no opportunity for them to go on with school,” Cadden said. “That was the starting moment for Ms. Murray and I. Then [we started with] the hypotheticals. We were talking about how much it would cost to send kids to school. It was interesting to learn how little it does cost.”
One year of high school in Peru only costs roughly $400, a manageable number for Cadden and Murray. Though the final decision for who receives the scholarships will be left up to the Explorama guides, Cadden and Murray have named two students as potential beneficiaries. One of the students, a 12-year-old named Jefferson, had met Cadden when she went to Peru in 2015 and 2016.
“When I was leaving [this year], I ended up writing him a letter and he ended up bringing me to his house and writing me a letter there. That was the longest form of communication that we were able to have and it was through writing,” Cadden said, making note of the language barrier between her and Jefferson. “The things he wrote were really interesting and really well thought out.”
Murray brought in another student, a 16-year-old named Ruben, as a candidate for the second scholarship. Murray explains that Ruben was “just one of the kids in the community” until he became fascinated with her digital camera and began using it to take pictures of his village.
“He has an incredible artistic eye,” Murray said. “This was a kid that, if he went to school in a city, there is no question in my mind that there would be some art or photography career that he would be pursuing.”
With more than $700 still needed to fund the scholarships, Murray plans to promote the charity to her social studies classes in the fall. Meanwhile, Cadden will bring the charity to her college where she will campaign for more donations over the next year.
“It’s hard to remember that not everyone has the opportunity to go to school,” Cadden said. “When most of us go to school, it’s a challenge to get up in the morning. But you have to remember that there are people who wish that they could be doing that.”
Contra La Corriente is accepting donations mailed to June Murray at Hudson High School, 69 Brigham St., Hudson, MA 01749.