POCATELLO — Could you imagine what your life would be like with only five years of education?
For many boys and girls around the world, this is the most education they will ever receive — and they are the lucky ones.
To reinforce the importance of education and to raise money for youth school supplies in Pocatello and refugee children’s supplies in Twin Falls, Alma Jam will host Pocatello’s First Street Dinner at Leadership Park, 250 N. Main St., on Sept. 30 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
“With all the statistics on education, especially for Idaho, I think it’s vital we show our community and the nation that we do value youth education,” Jam said. “Education at a young age is the backbone for a child developing into other areas, whether it’s through higher education or academic inquiry later in the future.”
Jam, the 2015 Miss Africa Idaho, relocated from Cameroon, Africa, to Pocatello with her mother and three sisters at 10 years old. She escaped a culture in which 28 million girls between the ages of 6 and 15 are not in school and many more never even set foot in a classroom.
Violent extremists in many countries are bent on destroying opportunities for school children, their families and communities. That, coupled with prolonged conflict in the Middle East, has turned the U.S. and Idaho communities, particularly in the Boise and Twin Falls areas, into popular refugee resettlement destinations.
After attending Idaho’s First Street Dinner in Twin Falls last year, which was hosted by Liyah Babayan, the owner of Ooh La La Boutiques, Jam was inspired to host a similar event in Pocatello.
“If you look at Liyah’s story, she was a refugee herself who settled in Twin Falls,” Jam said. “To see how this woman has built her life after all the war and heartbreak and is now a phenomenal business owner and advocate in her community is incredibly inspiring.”
In addition to multiple keynote speakers — including District 25 Superintendent Doug Howell, Dr. Naeem Fahim and Pastor Jacqualine Thomas — the formal outdoor gala features a five-course meal, host bar and live entertainment from ISU Pakistani student Meena Hijazi.
Tickets are $60 individually or $100 per couple and are available online at www.missafricaidaho.com, Great Harvest, the Idaho State University Diversity Resource Center, CoHo Coffee and Ooh La La Boutique in Twin Falls.
Or reserve one with Jam by calling 241-0980 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This event has all the features of a formal dinner except it’s hosted on the street,” Jam said. “Our purpose is to celebrate education and community partnership.”
Sponsored by local restaurants, including Del Monte Meats, Buddy’s Italian Restaurant and ButterBurr’s, the five-course meal starts at 7 p.m.
In addition to raising money for youth school supplies, a portion of the proceeds will help with competition expenses for the Miss Africa USA cultural pageant Nov. 5 in Washington, D.C.
“Another message I want to draw forth is the fact we tend to ignore education in the home. That is education from parents or guardians,” Jam said. “This is where the children learn first. Being able to provide those resources is really vital for our children to become better people in the future.”