By HOPE RACINE
Fourteen students left a spring break trip in Guatemala with a new found purpose to support and enrich the educational experience of the country’s youth.
On March 30, students launched a “Go Fund Me” campaign to raise $6,000 for the Community Cloud Forest Conservation, a school that teaches young women about self esteem, nutrition and sustainable farming practices during a 25-day program. The school currently has no energy, and classes are held in the dark. The goal of the fundraiser is to raise money to invest in a hydroelectric turbine that will run electricity to the building and improve the quality of education.
“Power would give them the opportunity to use computers and projectors as study tools,” said junior geography and studio art double major Kacie Waters-Heflin in a release from the school. “And it would give them light for operation.”
While visiting the conservation over break, the program’s director approached students and asked them to make a brief video about the school in order to raise interest and funds for their program. Inspired, the students took it a step further.
These fundraising projects are not new to the university. This April is the fourth annual month of microfinance, which serves to examine the effectiveness of grassroots financing programs and their effect on poverty.
In addition, April features the $2 Challenge, where students spend a week learning about the realities of living on $2 a day. Students face challenges such as cutting off their electronic use, boiling water before drinking and some even live in cardboard boxes on Ball Circle.
UMW students also have a long legacy of participating in fundraising programs, with multiple student organizations revolving around it. La Ceiba, which was founded in 2008, serves as a microfinance program that funds Honduran individuals, businesses and schools. Students Helping Honduras also feature multiple events each year to raise money, such as the annual Thrift SHHop event.
Many of these events are overseen by Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey, founder of the month of microfinance and the $2 Challenge. The goal of these projects is to allow individuals within the communities to receive loans that allow them to begin businesses and grow their own success, rather than rely on donations. This allows for a more stable income and helps individuals escape from poverty.