ALLOUEZ, Wis. - Tyler and Rebekah Clark feel fortunate to be raising their three children in Allouez. It's a rich community compared to what they've seen while visiting Atexcac, Mexico.
"You see kids that don't have shoes, that live in literally mud huts," explained Tyler.
To help them rise out of poverty, the couple collected $4,000 in donations last year to stock Atexcac's library with computers, software, printers, a projector and 400 books for the village's children to read.
"They were looking at atlases of all over the world. I mean it was amazing just seeing the hope in their eyes," said Tyler.
Rebekah added, "It was really just heartwarming. The feeling like, you know, we're making a difference."
Word of the Clarks' successful project spread, and now the couple is pledging to help build two more libraries. They're in the process of recruiting and registering 20 volunteers to travel to Veracruz, Mexico in November to lay the brick and mortar, put up the roof, and fill the shelves with reading materials. Residents in Veracruz are also holding bake sales to buy the land, lay the foundation, and do the electrical work.
"When we go out there and do a project together, and we're working side by side and living together, it breaks down those barriers. I think that's one of the most important things we can do to create love and get rid of contention in the world," said Rebekah.
The Clarks say the gift of literacy will open up many doors.
"With these opportunities, they're like, 'Oh hey, I can learn English here. I can learn Chinese, and if they know that, they can get any job down there," said Tyler.
The other library project takes the effort to Africa after Tyler formed a friendship with two fellow St. Norbert College students from Nigeria.
"When they heard about the library, they're like, "Oh man, we have a library down in my home city that basically took me off the street and educated me so I could come here,' and it does that for a lot of kids but they were telling us it's been around for 20 or 30 years. It's pretty rundown at this point," Tyler explained.
An online fundraiser is now open to bring in $7,500 to purchase new books and technology. The Nigerian students will purchase the items in Africa.
Rebekah says the education these libraries provide really opens a child's eyes.
"I can do anything that I want if I'm willing to put the effort in and use these resources and make a dream for myself and go live it."
The Clarks hope that with endless possibilities, comes an end to the children's poverty.