By Maddie Ticknor /// Staff Writer
LC BuildOn hosted their third annual BuildOn Benefit Dinner last Thursday night in Albany. The evening kicked off with a performance by 4.B.C, followed by a brief speech by Erin Wallace, the chapter coordinator of the international non-profit organization. BuildOn’s mission acknowledges the direct correlation between illiteracy and poverty, and works to quell poverty through promoting gender equality and education. The nonprofit requires villages with schools funded by BuildOn to offer night classes to adults, as well as equal numbers of girls and boys enrolled in classes. As a whole, the 23 year old organization has 80 chapters across the nation, and has built 593 schools throughout the developing world. Wallace proudly pointed out that statistically this means that BuildOn breaks ground on a new school every four days
Since 2000, BuildOn has funded 53 schools in Haiti, one of which was sponsored by the Lewis & Clark chapter. 77 percent of Haiti’s population lives below the American poverty line, and half of all primary aged school children do not attend school. By funding and facilitating the construction of schools in rural Haiti, BuildOn provides effective aid that allows for immediate relief, as well as the promise of progress in the future.
Since Lewis & Clark became involved with BuildOn in 2011, the LC BuildOn chapter has fundraised for the construction of primary schools in Malawi and Haiti. It takes roughly eight to nine months to raise the $30,000 necessary for the construction of a primary school. This is done entirely through student run fundraisers like the benefit dinner. “We contract with external organizations, we work within our budgets and write school grants for funding, we are all getting hands on experience at what it means to work with and operate within a non-profit which is incredibly valuable.” Katherine Quaid, head of the LC chapter of BuildOn, said,
The twelve dedicated members of LC Build On decide how to raise the money most effectively, and then some of them will “trek” to Haiti to break ground on the new school. The trek is an incredibly moving aspect of BuildOn—Quaid reflects that it, “allows for us to educate ourselves about Haitian culture and gives BuildOn members and the Haitian community the opportunity to work together, learn about each other and build global connections that will endure even after members have left the Haitian community.”
Students and faculty are invited to join the LC BuildOn community for meetings and planning. Email email@example.com to receive a newsletter about upcoming event you may wish to attend. The next fundraising event will occur after spring break, Quaid elaborates that it will be “a dress drive where we donate dresses to another NGO and they give us 60 percent of the perceived profits all of which will go towards the construction of the school in Haiti.”
The benefit dinner concluded with a speech by Valcourt Honore, a Lewis & Clark student from Haiti. Honore eloquently articulated the value of change today that positively affects the future, his take away message being, “if you don’t have education, you cannot express your natural talent.”