During their immersion, the participants will show their solidarity with the community by participating in the covenant signing, ground breaking ceremony, and help with the construction of a new school during their stay.
As the Trek participants stretch their arms for yellow fever vaccine and pack their bags with antimalarial tablets in preparation for the trip, we spoke to Maurice Muchene, Vice President of Business Development at buildOn, about the purpose of building schools in developing countries and this project, in particular.
Maurice, how important is this project for the community in Senegal?
It is very important. It’s a great investment in the children and communities that we support. Building a new school in this community has the potential to change lives.
Tell us more about the project.
We do empowerment. It’s not just the schools we’re building. We work with communities to break the cycle of poverty. We do that by empowering them, helping them to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. We don’t just build a school for them. We engage the local community, partner with them, and build a school together with them.
The idea is to partner with communities and give them what they need to make the best decisions for themselves and position themselves to be successful.
What happens after the school is built?
The local community is able to, and willing to, take care of the new school. It’s part of the covenant we sign with them before we even start. They make a commitment to actively participate in the construction of the school and to take good care of it once it is done, and also give equal access to the school to both boys and girls, which is very important.
Is the community able to find teachers?
Yes. We’re working with the local government to support the schools with teachers. We partner with the community and with the government. The government’s job is to provide teachers and the resources needed for school. When we partner with a community, our intention is not to replace what the government can provide. Our goal is to partner with them to supplement what they’re already doing. They are responsible for providing teachers once the schools are built and they are trying as much as they can to do that.
Are there any success stories?
Definitely! We have many success stories where we build a school in partnership with a community and then not only children attend this school, but their parents that cannot read or write have the opportunity to participate in the Adult Literacy programs we work with the community to implement! The parents not only gain literacy skills but important income-generating skills that are part of the Adult Literacy Program curriculum.
We are looking forward to building a new school together with the Acronis Foundation and very excited that so many of the Acronis employees put their hands up to be part of this project. It’s great to be part of this movement. Together we can help communities to break the cycle of poverty and help their children, and their families, to reach their goals.
Could you tell us more about buildOn?
At home or abroad, buildOn’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. Across the U.S., buildOn empowers urban youth to transform their neighbourhoods through intensive community service and to change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries in the world. Since 1991, buildOn has empowered more than 2 million hours of volunteer service in the U.S. and constructed more than 1351 schools worldwide, with more than 177,000 children and adults attending these schools every day.