Students raise money for Ugandan schoolhouse
NOVEMBER 6, 2012
by Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer
A group of Furman students are hoping to give a gift to children they’ve never met — the opportunity to learn in a classroom for the first time.
Last week, Furman students set up four stationary bicycles in front of the James B. Duke Library and began their quest to “Bike for Uganda.” Faculty and staff members joined in the fundraiser by making donations or taking the time to bike for the cause. By the end of the day, the group had raised more than $2,200 toward building a school for Ugandan children.
The seed for the effort was planted when Sarah Burke Sigmon ’13 met 28-year-old George Srour, the founder of Indianapolis, Ind.-based Building Tomorrow, during a campus visit with the Wesley Fellowship and Presbyterian Students Association groups last year.
Since the non-profit organization was founded in 2006, more than $500,000 has been raised by schools and colleges across the United States to purchase materials for school construction in communities where no formal schools exist. The partner communities in Uganda donate land for each school and volunteer about 20,000 hours of labor toward the construction effort. The Ugandan government then assumes operating costs and the salaries of teachers and administrators.
As of this October, 10 schools have been built and are operating in Uganda, and five more are under construction, according to Building Tomorrow’s website. Each school can house up to 325 students in seven classrooms and includes a library, office, meeting space and a soccer field.
The fundraising efforts for Furman’s chapter of Building Tomorrow are being led by Sigmon, Anna Sheppard ’13, David Hanor ’13, Shelby Rimmler ’14 and Catherine Deibert ’13. For several members of the group, it’s a cause that is close to their hearts.
Hanor had an eye-opening experience when he traveled with a group from his church in Kingsport, Tenn., to Nairobi, Kenya. “You see the need . . . I toured schools where they were lucky to have dirt for a floor,” he says.
Sigmon and Sheppard are among 21 Teaching Fellows at Furman who plan to teach in South Carolina schools after graduation. For Sigmon, Building Tomorrow is a chance to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children who have had limited opportunities. “Education can give you an opportunity to change your life,” she says.
Additional fundraisers are planned in the spring. To learn more or to donate, visit Furman’s Building Tomorrow website.