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Miami Proud: Coral Park High students' mission is to help kids in Africa

Miami Proud: Miami Coral Park Senior High students share tech help with kids in Africa
Miami Proud: Miami Coral Park Senior High students share tech help with kids in Africa 03:25

MIAMI - At 7 p.m. in Kenya, a church is packed with young kids intently listening to Cesar Benemelis who is connected on Google Meet from his high school in Southwest Miami-Dade. 

He is a freshman at Miami Coral Park Senior High School. 

The tech whiz first connected online with these kids two years ago, through his church and their pastor. 

At first, Cesar just wanted to help them any way he could.

"We sent money, clothing, shoes, anything that we could give to them but we realized it was only temporary and we wanted to find a better solution."

Cesar has been building robots and competing since he attended RamTech camp at Coral Park as a middle schooler. 

He had a costly robotics set that he decided he didn't need, which led to a big idea.

"I was thinking 'what should I do with them?' Because I could teach it to somebody else because I already know how to use it. And my first thought was the kids in Africa. I was thinking maybe I can show them how robotics works, and I could give them a brighter future," said Benemelis. 

And that is how Sparktech Robotics Tutoring was born. 

Cesar coordinated with the pastor and every Saturday since last fall he started to teach the Kenyans new skills and get the equipment.

"We've been sending them laptops and generators to make sure they have electricity, and transportation through a bus to the class."

Cesar came to Miami from Cuba at an early age and has visited his family there, so seeing kids in Africa who have so much less than Americans, struck a chord.

"When you are stuck in a place and you're not able to go further - can't make more money, can't get to where you want in life - when you break that limit it feels so great and you can do whatever you want. I want those kids to have that same freedom."

His passion ignited fellow students in the engineering magnet, who give up their Saturdays for Sparktech, and the school staff.

Charlie Delahoz is the engineering magnet teacher and RamTech sponsor. 

He could not be prouder of the team.

"This is a 14-year-old boy. The maturity level where he is and his vision, and his goals are amazing. So anything we can do to support it and help him it's just fascinating to me," said Delohoz. 

He added that the school principal Scott Weiner is fully supportive of these efforts.

Cesar says the goal is to expand the reach, to make Sparktech a true' kid to kid' program, and have it live well beyond his own high school experience, which includes attending a camp at Embry Riddle this summer. 

He is looking forward to being an aerospace engineer one day.

The volunteer tutors are learning a lot about the culture in Kenya and are gaining valuable teaching skills. 

Their biggest challenge is navigating logistics and costs to send equipment to Kenya. 

If you would like to learn more about this program, visit their website here. 

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