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About Building Hope

Building Hope is a design and build initiative that was first brought to life by Anna Will, a senior at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, majoring in Interior Architecture. In January of 2010, Anna Will visited the village of Kyekyewere, Ghana with Habitat for Humanity. While in Ghana, village representatives expressed a need for a primary school, and Anna became interested in involving her Interior Architecture program at UNCG. She recruited the help from her classmate Christyn Dunning, also a senior at UNCG majoring in Interior Architecture. Together they formulated a plan to get the University involved in the project they felt so strongly about. It wasn’t long before they found the help they needed in one of their professors, Hannah Mendoza, who began a research initiative for the school.

Having compiled research to design the school, the Global Studio class at UNCG will design the school with a focus on improving methods of construction and preservation of traditions through design and architecture. Through research and community involvement, they aspire to impact the future of village children with expanded educational opportunities. In accordance with this partnership, two acres of land were donated for the school by the chief of Kyekyewere, Nana Boakye Abablo.

Students are currently designing the six-room schoolhouse, which will also include a library, faculty space, and a large gathering space. Plans for the building will be submitted the 1st of Novemeber, 2010, allowing two months of site preparation. In partnership with local volunteers and skilled labor, a group of students will travel to Kyekyewere in early January to build the school that the children have so long anticipated.

Why not stay local?

Children in the village currently have to walk several miles to schools in neighboring villages, which clearly discourages them from regular attendance. In the time Anna’s Habitat for Humanity group spent with the kids, they saw that children were eager to practice English and math problems, and excited to write letters on paper they provided. Kids were fascinated by drawing and writing, gathering to watch with curiosity. These children were excited to tell of their hopes of attending University, some even expressing the desire to work in government, customs, or business. The group was bothered hearing children explain that they probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to see future they dreamed of just because they didn’t think they were capable of making it to University. Families in these villages tend to focus on more on the chores of daily life and less on the means of achieving dreams of the future. The simple act of asking a child to answer a math problem or practice writing made them realize the reality of the things they learn in school. When they were afraid to draw pictures with members of Anna’s group, it became clear that they had little or no experience in the fine arts, outside of village crafts; something that research proves vital to child development. The absence of electricity in the village contradicted the students’ textbook readings on “e-mail” and “the Internet.” How could they possibly learn about these things if they never had the chance to experience them? Witnessing this determination to learn made onlookers realize how important it was to bridge the gap between reality and dreams to better the futures of these children.

Building this school will not only present children with a place to learn, but it will provide jobs in the community, address problems in existing construction methods, and motivate children to succeed in achieving their dreams. The world is much smaller than we realize; students at UNCG and members of our community must understand the importance of global involvement and thinking beyond our school, state, and country. We spend so much of our time focused locally that we turn a blind eye to the lives of those in greater need. If children of rural villages, such as Kyekyewere, can understand and idolize the opportunity in our “American” way of life, it is only fair that we invest efforts in giving them the same.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patricia Massy permalink
    May 23, 2011 11:39 pm

    I am delighted to see that my alma mater is working in a concrete way to give an education to children in Ghana. An educated populace is the foundation of a democracy.
    Although the school is already under construction, perhaps the example of the Green School in Bali will be of some use:

    Also, I would like to mention the experience of a group who provided a library to a village in Costa Rica. They found that by having the local people volunteer to construct the building and then be responsible for its maintenance, they valued it much more highly than if they had been given a completed building–a mistake the group had made with a previous project.


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