Growing Education in Africa
For Grace Schroeder '15, it was a flash mob in New York City. For Chris Toone '14, it was a semester on the high seas to visit various countries and assist in humanitarian work. These events led both students to take up the cause of improving the education of children in Africa.
Toone first pulled up to the school in Akatim, a rural settlement in western Ghana, during a downpour. The makeshift structure—erected by villagers after the Ghanaian government failed to deliver on its promise to build a school—barely qualified as shelter, let alone a place of education.
“When we got to the school, I didn’t actually believe that it was a school,” Toone says. Although some pieces of wood served as walls, light came straight through from the other side; holes in the ceiling let rain leak into the classroom, and pieces of plywood dangled.
“Everyone was just huddled together, and no one was really doing anything. But it was just a normal school day for them. We didn’t see one smile while we were there,” he recalls.
Toone visited the school with a group of college students during a Semester at Sea program in 2010, and the poor conditions there stuck with him and the other students. They decided to found a nonprofit that has since raised more than $50,000 for the school and a clinic in nearby Senase, a larger although still impoverished village with some infrastructure.
– Steve Shoemaker