For Hometown News
STUART -- Many people travel around the world and bring back photos and T-shirts.
Mr. Sherer, 51, a Stuart resident since 1993, traveled to Madagascar and brought back a desire to help a community. He has a goal to raise $5,000 to send 50 children to an after school program to learn English and he needs help to make this happen.
"I want to provide the kids there with a skill that will let them help themselves and it's clear that learning English will consistently pay more dividends over their lifetime than anything else," Mr. Sherer said.
Mr. Sherer has already shipped supplies of basketballs, jerseys and solar lighting to children in Antsiranana, an impoverished community in the northern tip of Madagascar where he spent three months from April to July 2013.
"As I drove in from the airport, I looked around at the tin roof shacks along the road and thought, what have I done, where have I come to?" he said.
The streets were mainly dirt and half-finished buildings were a common sight. He describes the city center as "dilapidated French colonial with a certain charm that definitely takes some getting used to."
Mr. Sherer plans for his stay in Madagascar from April to July in 2013 were to learn French and kite surfing and he enrolled in the Alliance Francaise. His love of sports and basketball prompted him to join a game with some locals.
"Basketball is an international language so even though we couldn't really understand each other, we were able to get to know each other through sport," he said.
One of his teammates asked him to help out coaching the local youth at a basketball school. Again, language was a barrier but Mr. Sherer was able to communicate through a combination of gestures, hand signs and really poor French. Another barrier was that there were only two basketballs for 150 kids. The kids were divided into small groups and had 20 minutes to practice resulting in a lot of downtime for the majority of the kids.
When Mr. Sherer returned to the United States, he stopped by a local YMCA and talked to the director about his Madagascar experience and asked him if he could spare some old basketballs. After two minutes, the director said he would give him some basketballs and jerseys. In November the first two of many boxes arrived in Antsiranana.
Empowered by his success, he is now launching a new campaign to help the children in one of the poorest nations in the world to teach them English.
Mr. Sherer has launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com. The link is http://igg.me/at/MadagascarMadness. Crowd funding is a popular new social media platform that allows anyone to tell their story and raise money globally.
Although learning English is invaluable, the cost of learning English in a local language academy is very inexpensive by our standards.
For just $10 a month, a child can attend school for two hours a day, five days a week. Mr. Sherer plans to fund each student for three months and then measure their success. Students who are doing well will receive an additional three months of classes.
He would also like to purchase additional solar lights so the kids have light at night to study by. The majority of homes in the area do not have electricity.
To learn more about Mr. Sherer's project and how you can help, search for Madagascar Madness on facebook or call (772)708-4227 or contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.