I'll let others critique KONY 2012 (though I certainly wish that be wearing a cute bracelet and sharing a video on facebook I really could help take down a warlord...). Instead, I want to take a moment to share my experience with a charitible organization that has had a big impact on my life.
In 2008, I started a new teaching job at a Chicago public high school. Looking to be more active with my students outside of academics, I volunteered to be a BuildOn teacher leader. Once a week, I met with another teacher, a BuildOn leader, and amazing group of active, friendly high school students, to focus on solutions to community and world issues, and to work actively towards positive change by volunteering in our community.
BuildOn is a movement that strives to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. It is rated 4 stars on Charity Navigator (check out Invisible Children, the charity behind KONY 2012 Charity Navigator stats here). Our student group has cleaned up local parks, assisted with children’s programming at local park districts, volunteered with the elderly, and raised awareness on local and world issues impacting our school community (One such successful campaign focused on dating violence through violence prevention training sessions and peer-to-peer education). Just recently this year, we organized a Hunger Banquet, powerfully raising awareness on the inequities in world food distribution.
My own two children, ages 2 and 10, have often tagged along on our projects, and are growing up with the innate knowledge that in order to receive, we must give back. My dream is to someday raise enough money to travel with my children to one of BuildON's partner countries, where we would work with a community to build a school.
Setting off with a group of Chicago Public Schools students on a the field trip of a lifetime – to Mali, West Africa – where we worked to build the first ever school in a small village, was by far the culmination of my positive involvement in BuildON. The future students in Founukouni filled my days with laughter and made digging into the hard ground all the more meaningful. Sharing my same goal were 17 Chicago public school students – all of us brought together by BuildON’s vision for a world where education is a priority.
|A school room I visited in Mali. These children were SO enthusiastic about school! I think this really inspired our group of CPS high school students to have a whole new appreciation of education!|
I am proud to continue to volunteer for this amazing organization, and I really wish I had more time to dedicate to my involvement. It gives me the chance to share my belief – that we can change the world through education, volunteerism, and community building.
Interested? Visit: http://www.buildon.org/get-involved/
|One of my favorite pictures of me; it captures one of those happy life moments as I officially break ground for the schoolhouse. I think the men standing behind me were shocked (scared!) to see a (clumsy) woman wielding a pickaxe.|