Westminster students Scott Oldebeken, Gina Campagna, Clayton Jordan and Samantha Richman, along with Dr. Bob Hansen, Director of Counseling and Health Services are working in East Africa for the Fight For The Children program. The students applied for a Davis Projects for Peace grant and were selected to put their P4 - Pioneering Perpetual Partnerships for Peace into action.
The idea for the project stemmed from a presentation by Dr. Bob Hansen, who had worked with FFTC last fall while on sabbatical. During the presentation, Hansen shared a story of a young Ugandan boy who did not recognize his own reflection - this resonnated with team leader Scott Oldebeken.
"How could a young boy not know his own appearance?" Scott stated. "How great must his poverty be to never see a photo of himself or his reflection in a mirror. The words about this struggling Ugandan child have remained with me. They make me ponder what life must be like in that East African country, 7,982 miles away. They cause me to be grateful for my birthplace. They remind me of my good fortune to have access to healthcare and education. They prompt me to reach out and share what I can."
And reach out he did. Scott pulled together a group of fellow students, identified objectives and a budget, submitted a proposal, and was one of only 100 projects nationwide to receive funding. The group has three main objectives:
- Serve as the first goodwill ambassadors to Fulton's sister-city, Kibungo, Rwanda, a town devastated by genocide, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and recent droughts
- Conduct a community health needs assessment of the small villages surrounding Kibungo
- Volunteer in the Kibungo area with the district hospital, the orphanage and schools
They also plan to document their trip through video and hope to recruit other individuals and community organizations to form a perpetual link of communication between Fulton, Missouri and Kibungo, Rwanda.
"It concerns us that many worthwhile overseas short-term outreaches do not reach their potential in generating additional support from our universities and communities," notes Scott. "If more effective communication methods were used, funding and volunteer resources could grow exponentially! This is why bringing back video, capturing the realities of the East African communities, to the US and potential contributors and volunteers is so important. We are seeking a sustainable relationship with a sister community in East Africa by raising local awareness and issuing a "call to action"."
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