The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Building Tomorrow raises money for Ugandan school

Jenn Metz | Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Notre Dame chapter of Building Tomorrow is raising money to build a school for 350 Ugandan children.

The Primary Education For All sector of the ND-8 Millennium Development Initiatives club is working with Building Tomorrow, a national non-profit organization, this year. Sophomores Jenna Knapp, Erin Jelm and Barbara Ho are among committee leaders working on events to raise “a tangible goal” of $35,000, Jelm said.

“To break it down, if each Notre Dame student donated $3.02, we would raise the funds to build a brand new school and give hope for the future to 350 impoverished kids,” Jelm said.

Last spring, George Srour, the founder of Building Tomorrow, spoke during ND-8’s Millennium Development Goals Week, Jelm said.

“George talked to us about Building Tomorrow’s mission and work as well as the movement to get college campuses across the nation involved in fundraising,” she said.

According to the Building Tomorrow Web site, 46 million children in sub-Saharan Africa have no school to attend.

“Education is the foundation of change, and with an education these children will have more of the resources necessary to better their lives and the lives of their children,” Jelm said.

In what Ho calls a “collaborative effort,” chapters of Building Tomorrow work with the local government and the communities in the Wakiso district of Uganda, where the schools will be built. They also work with the World Food Program. The $35,000 raised by chapters at universities like Notre Dame covers only 75 percent of the cost of the school, Knapp said. “The local community contributes the remaining 25 percent through sweat equity and construction costs.”

“Building Tomorrow is set apart – at least in my mind – from other non-profit organizations because of the direct involvement that those who donate have with the communities in Uganda,” Jelm said.

The school will have 10 rooms, including seven classrooms and an outdoor soccer field. The World Food Program will provide students with daily lunches and the government will sustain teachers’ salaries.

“One of the really neat things is once the kids are there, they wear the colors of the school that built it,” Ho said. “So the students at our school will be wearing blue and gold.”

Building Tomorrow is selling T-shirts for $10 this week in South Dining Hall and LaFortune Student Center and next week in LaFortune. It is their second fundraiser this year.

All proceeds from T-shirt sales will go to the organization, Ho said. Paul Johnson, a father of a Notre Dame student, donated the T-shirts for the fundraiser.

The first fundraiser this year was called “Brick by Brick,” and took place before fall break. Club members sold paper bricks for $5 in LaFortune.

“They were symbolic bricks,” Ho said.

The bricks said “I’m building tomorrow for …,” and students were encouraged to write the name of “someone who reminded them how important education is,” Ho said.

The first fundraiser was planned in conjunction with The Promise Banner, where students put hand prints on a banner symbolizing “their promise to help,” Ho said.

Project Fresh performed during The Promise Banner signing and the Brick by Brick sale, Ho said.

“This is a uniting for within Notre Dame,” Ho said. “We are all working for one goal.”

Brick by Brick raised $10,830 for the organization, she said.

Building Tomorrow is raising awareness and funds, Ho said. On Nov. 6, the group will hold a dinner and lecture at South Dining Hall with speakers Srour and Joseph Kalisa, the country director of Building Tomorrow who works in Uganda.

The club is raising awareness “so people know what they’re supporting,” Ho said.

“We’re grateful for all those who have helped us thus far and hope that people will continue to support this effort,” Knapp said.

Building Tomorrow also offers opportunities for student delegates to go to Uganda, and a trip is being organized for January 2008, Ho said.