Tahoe chapter of BuildOn working to make world better place | SierraSun.com

Tahoe chapter of BuildOn working to make world better place

Jay Howard
Special to the Bonanza
Allison Tong helps a BuildOn employee with a cement block during her trip with other locals to Senegal.
Courtesy photo |

One out of every ten people are illiterate, according to UNESCO. They cannot read or write or even sign their own name.

Local students at Incline High School recognized this problem and decided to take action. With the support of Amy Henderson, IHS history teacher, they introduced an organization called BuildOn to their school and community.

BuildOn is a nonprofit organization that is working to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations. BuildOn provides service and programs to help inspire inner-city youth in their futures.

Outside of the United States, BuildOn works directly with the governments of developing countries to build schools in rural villages. These countries include Haiti, Nicaragua, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.

This past year, seven students at Incline High School raised $10,000 toward funding a school in the Kaolack Region in Senegal, Africa. They then raised the money to actually send three students and Henderson to go to Senegal in order to help begin construction.

Local BuildOn President Chloe Whatmore, along with Tori Findlen and Allison Tong, lived with host families in the village and experienced the intriguing culture first-hand.

Findlen recounts her welcoming to the village: “The overwhelming sense of community embraced us and made us feel as if we were family.”

After the success in Senegal, the team would like to open up to other motivated and committed high schoolers in the area and is hoping to send 10-15 students on a trek to Haiti in the summer of 2015.

They’ve chosen Haiti as their next destination due to the immense need in rural communities. According to the United Nations, Haiti is ranked 168th on the Human Development Index and the adult literacy rate is only 48.7 percent.

“After going on trek to Malawi in 2012 and now returning from Senegal, I can honestly say that we are changing the world one village at a time,” Whatmore said. “None of this would have been possible without the generous donations from the Incline community. Together as a town, we have opened a lifetime of opportunity to over 1,000 Senegalese children and many generations to come. I’m incredibly excited to continue this movement in Haiti next year.”

If you would like to donate and join the movement, visit laketahoebuildon.org.