Students desperate for a permanent place to receive an education in the new country of South Sudan will benefit from a popular University of Lethbridge student-organized fundraising event.
The U of L's Rotaract Club will host Guir Ku Baai – Building Peace through Education, its 7th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday, Feb. 4 in the Grand Ballroom at the Lethbridge Lodge.
Proceeds from the event will help current U of L Management student Anthony Makwach build a school in his home community of Abouk (pronounced Ab-wark), South Sudan, in the world's newest nation.
Makwach was born during a prolonged civil war between what are now the countries of Sudan and South Sudan, and was raised in nearby Kenya. He has returned numerous times to his home community of Abouk since hostilities diminished in 2005.
Makwach says his long-term dream is the construction of a school to assist the children of the community.
"I went back to the South Sudan this past summer to celebrate the country's independence, and to visit my family," says Makwach. "I was so inspired, but at the same time heartbroken to see how the kids are struggling for their education. They have no school and are taking classes under a tree. I built a small shelter with my own funds, and came back to Canada with the idea for a project – to build a building big enough for at least 600 elementary school children."
Makwach knows first-hand the value of an education and the freedom it provides.
"I had an opportunity and privilege to go to a high school in Kenya. I got my diploma, and now am attending the U of L, where I am training to become an accountant," he says.
The direct connection between Anthony, his family in Abouk, and the dedication of the community to build the school formed the basis for the Rotaract group's support for this project.
"It is Anthony's dream to see a school built in his community, and we are working to make his dream a reality," says Eva Gorny, Rotaract's vice-president, External Affairs. "The Rotaract event typically raises between $10,000 and $15,000. We are hopeful that most, if not all, of the needed funds will be raised at this event."
Makwach's family members in Abouk and area are builders, and the cost of construction materials will be offset by volunteer labour from the community.
South Sudan, as the world's newest country, is also the poorest, with the majority of its eight million citizens living on less than $1 (CDN) per day. Life expectancy and literacy rates are low, infant mortality rates are high, basic medical care is scarce, education is difficult to obtain and the economy is unstable.
The landlocked nation was officially recognized as an independent country in 2011. Several international aid and development organizations are active in the country, but there remains a significant need for specific projects – such as the Rotaract Abouk School Project – that can help communities develop on their own.
Tickets for the Rotaract Dinner and Silent Auction are priced at $65 each ($40 for students), or $450 for a table of eight.
Silent auction items, gifts-in-kind and monetary donations are also appreciated. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase tickets or for additional information.
GET THE FACTS
· A brief video presentation from Makwach can be seen at vimeo.com/33668154
· The U of L Rotaract Club is a not-for-profit service club that is part of Rotary International. Its mandate is to fundraise, provide volunteers and, most importantly, raise awareness for both local and international needs
· Over the past six years, the Rotaract Club has raised more than $100,000 for projects in such varied locations as Burkina-Faso, Iqaluit and Malawi
· For more information, contact Eva Gorny, vice-president External Affairs at 403-360-3843 or e-mail email@example.com
This story first appeared in the January edition of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.