|Senior Hopes to Finish "Building Tomorrow" for Children in Uganda Before She Graduates
March 08, 2010
Contact: Bill Giduz
Davidson College senior Lindsay Kallman doesn't intend to graduate without having built a school in the African country of Uganda.
|Kallman with young students at a Building Tomorrow school she visited in Uganda.
Kallman was a founding member four years ago of the Davidson chapter of Building Tomorrow, an international non-profit group that raises funds and awareness to provide schooling for children in sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout her Davidson career, she has helped lead the Davidson chapter toward its goal of raising the $35,000 required to build a school.
There are about two dozen community service organizations at Davidson. Their student members provide volunteer time and fundraising effort to support a wide range of humanitarian services focusing primarily on health, housing and education. In addition to helping people in need, involvement with these extracurricular efforts provides students like Kallman with rich opportunities to learn leadership and organizational skills.
Kallman chose to devote herself to Building Tomorrow because she believes that education is the best initial entry point for many types of humanitarian intervention. She said, "If you give a child the chance to change the future, you give them the chance to break the cycle of poverty. Schools also provide a framework for further beneficial forms of education, such as health and agriculture."
Even on a campus full of high-achieving and devoted community servants, Kallman's involvement with Building Tomorrow is noteworthy. She has not only provided leadership for the campus chapter, but she also worked as a summer intern at Building Tomorrow's headquarters during the summer of 2007, and further developed her interest in the cause during two trips to Africa.
The organization was less than two years old when Kallman spent a summer working in its Indianapolis headquarters. During that formative period for the organization, she handled a broad range of responsibilities to help establish campus chapters and train student volunteers. The organization currently has chapters on 17 campuses nationwide.
She was president of the Davidson chapter during her sophomore year. She also reinforced her personal experience that year by enrolling in the "Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Sector" course taught by Professor of Political Science Ken Menkhaus.
She next spent the fall semester of her junior year in Tanzania, Africa, conducting independent research on the effectiveness of non-profit organizations operating there and in four other surrounding countries. As part of that experience, she arranged to travel with two Building Tomorrow African staff members to visit some of its schools in Uganda.
This year she received a Dean Rusk International Studies Program grant for travel to Dakar, Senegal, over winter break. She used that opportunity to conduct research on the effectiveness of non-profit and community-based groups working in that city.
Her work for Building Tomorrow has included both fundraising and raising awareness of the group's mission. The 20 or so regular chapter volunteers have passed out hot chocolate and candy canes while telling passers-by about the school construction project. Forty-one Davidson students once dressed in identical t-shirts printed with "41 for 41" to emphasize that 41 million children in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to education. They posted directional signs all over campus printed with the distances to various buildings to help people understand the tremendous distances some African children are forced to walk to attend school.
Kallman said, "A big part of the work is just getting the message out. The community should be proud that Davidson is going to build a school in Africa. It's a very personal, tangible thing that I think makes us unique."
Building Tomorrow recently broke ground on its eighth academy in Uganda. Chapters of the organization raise the funds needed to buy the land and build a school for about 325 students, complete with seven classrooms, an office, a library, toilets, and a soccer field. Parents and other community members pledge 25,000 hours of volunteer labor to the project, and committees of residents and local leaders oversee the construction and implementation of the project. The completed school building is leased to the local municipal government, which manages day-to-day operations. The Ugandan national government provides salaries for the teachers and staff.
To strengthen the partnership between donors and recipients, the name of each new academy includes the donor organization, and school uniforms for the students are in the school colors of the donor campus. Kallman looks forward to the day she can visit Davidson's Building Tomorrow academy and see its students dressed in red and black.
But that won't happen until the Davidson chapter has reached its $35,000 fundraising goal. During the past four years campus volunteers have conducted a variety of fundraisers, including a barbecue, letter-writing campaign, band concert, and an annual "Buy a Brick/Build a School" appeal. They'll be selling those paper bricks again in the Alvarez College Union March 8 to 12, inviting donors to write their names on paper bricks that are pasted to a wall that grows taller and taller as the campaign proceeds.
Last year's Brick/School campaign raised $1,500, which would still leave the organization more than $5,000 short of its goal. But Kallman has two other irons in the fire - personal appeals to friends and families, and a fundraising dinner.
"My goal as a founding member was to build a school before I graduated," said Kallman, who will receive her diploma May 16. "This is the last push."
She conceded that she might be "pretty sad" if BT doesn't reach its goal before the end of the school year, but it wouldn't diminish the value of her involvement. "There's no actual deadline, it's just our goal as a chapter," she explained.
The lessons she'll take forward are the ultimate prize. "I was lucky to find Building Tomorrow when I did," she said. "I've learned a lot of leadership and organizational skills, and had the opportunity to study a good model of an effective nonprofit. In all the research I've conducted on nonprofits here and in Africa, I always come back to BT as one of the best at making a big sustainable impact in a culturally sensitive way."
(For more information about Building Tomorrow contact current presidents Mal Kennedy '12 email@example.com or Hannah Cheever '12 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.