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Building tomorrow together

By Ellen Kobe
On September 22, 2009

There are 41 million children living in sub-Saharan Africa who do not receive an education. With the help of a new campus organization, Building Tomorrow, DePauw is taking steps to achieve a solution.

Building Tomorrow is a not-for-profit organization in Indianapolis founded by George Srour. During Srour's time in college, he had an internship in Uganda with the World Food Program.

After seeing the lack of education among Ugandan children, Srour was determined to raise enough money to pay for the construction of a school in Kampala, Uganda. His college, William and Mary, raised $45,000 to do just that.

After graduating, Srour finalized his efforts by establishing Building Tomorrow. The chief goal of this organization is to raise funds to build additional schools. The primary way it raises money and awareness of the cause is through college campuses that have Building Tomorrow chapters.

Maggie Kirkpatrick, the national group's assistant director for partnership, said college students have a large impact on the organization's success.

"College networking is the heart and soul of Building Tomorrow because students are making a commitment to build a school, and for the most part, we wouldn't be building schools without them," Kirkpatrick said.

Junior David Dietz is founder and leader of the DePauw chapter of Building Tomorrow, which was established this semester. The chapter launched its fundraising efforts with a concert last Wednesday at Bowman Park, which featured Sound Migration and DJ Solly.

During his previous years in college, Dietz said he noticed DePauw had many worthy service efforts, but he hoped the campus could unite around a single cause in order to make a larger impact. He began a DePauw chapter of Building Tomorrow to aid the organization with fundraising and to inform others about the educational needs of Ugandan children.

"The reason we are doing this is because we have all benefited so much from our education, and there are many people around the world that don't have access to education," Dietz said. "An education can have such an impact on their lives."

The chapter's goal is to raise $45,000 by June 2011 in order to support the construction of an entire school in Uganda. These schools educate 325 children and have seven classrooms, a library, a soccer field, an office and toilets. Kirkpatrick said that beyond providing the money for the construction of the school, Building Tomorrow also promotes community independence in each project. There are four to five skilled laborers who build each school, but the rest are volunteers, often friends and family of the children who will attend the new school.

In addition to raising money for a school, Dietz said another one of Building Tomorrow's goals is to unite the DePauw campus and educate people so they can be active global citizens who are aware of serious world issues.

Dietz said he is appreciative of the enthusiasm and involvement he has already seen and hopes it will continue.

"It's been inspiring so far to see the level of support we've received from our fellow students and the DePauw administration," Dietz said. "It's motivating because I can feel that I am working on something that is going to succeed and has real potential to make a difference in the lives of people who need help."

Sarah Ryan, director of Hartman House and Winter Term in Service, has provided Dietz with support and guidance. She urged Dietz to make sure the program doesn't just build schools, but that it also gives Ugandans the opportunity to lead their communities. This is exactly what Building Tomorrow hopes to accomplish.

Ryan said she feels Building Tomorrow will certainly benefit the DePauw community.

"I think that Building Tomorrow has a lot to teach us . about another community, to teach us about the struggles and successes of another community, to show us a little bit about the culture and values and history of other communities, and give us an opportunity to learn," Ryan said.

Valerie Rudolph, coordinator of the Compton Center for Peace and Justice also supports the organization.

"It's not just fun, there is a reason why they're doing it," said Rudolph.

Sophomore Michelina Ferrara, a member of the executive board of Building Tomorrow, said the organization funds an important cause.

"I think Building Tomorrow really combines not only philanthropy, but also activism and a social justice approach to the cause," Ferrara said. "Not only are we raising money to build a school out there, which is obviously important, but we are also making sure that we are informed about the situation and actively doing things in our daily lives."

Kirkpatrick, who has worked for Building Tomorrow for two years, expressed similar sentiments.

"It's definitely changed my life," she said. "I like the idea of being a part of something that's bigger than you are."

Ferrara pointed out that while Uganda will be receiving a new school in exchange for Building Tomorrow's hard work, DePauw will be receiving something in return.

"In the midst of doing something good, we are also unifying our campus," she said.

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