Many take for granted the ability to get an education. In America, students often go through the public education system; some receive financial aid to go to college or find some other way to pay for it. But the fact remains that getting an education is a reality to many. It is not a secret, either, that in some countries, other people do not have that same reality. However, here on campus, there are a couple of organizations that are striving to do their part to change that — one donation at a time.
Bottles for Poverty (BFP), headed by president, founder and fourth-year managerial economics major Robel Haile, has raised thousands of dollars simply through recyclable donations since the organization was founded in September 2011. Haile was motivated to create this organization after hearing about the work of Dr. Rick Hodes, humanitarian and medical director of the Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC), through a link his friend sent him of Hodes’ commencement speech for the 2011 UC Davis Medical School graduation ceremony.
“The simple idea that one can promote recycling, resulting in cleaner streets, and then collect all of the profit from the recyclables and put it [toward] building schools in rural areas of underdeveloped nations to provide unprivileged children with the opportunity to gain an education and everlasting knowledge is genuinely brilliant,” said Luvleen Brar, marketing director for BFP and a fourth-year psychobiology major.
All the proceeds go directly to the JDC, a Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, that helps fund the creation of schools in impoverished countries. The donations from BFP are helping to build schools in Ethiopia, the main location Hodes is working in. Since officially becoming a club in January 2012, they have raised over $9,000 and received the Blum Center Scholarship for Developing Economies and International Relations Community Service awards. They hope to raise $24,000 in order to build a school for more than a hundred children in Ethiopia and are also hoping to become a federally recognized nonprofit organization by the end of Winter Quarter.
“We believe that education is a key element in fighting poverty, and as students, we have made it our mission to help educate those who are less fortunate. Our goal is to give poor countries the tool (education) to solve their problems and become self-sufficient,” Haile said in an email interview.
Another organization on campus concerned with education for other countries is called Ann Prepare Lavni (APL), which means “let us prepare the future” in Haitian Creole. APL was founded by Lady Carolina Tavárez in June 2012 after receiving the UC Davis Blum Center’s Poverty Alleviation Through Action grant.
“I chose Haiti, because in Haiti, the barriers to trade and financial advancement rest in the ability to communicate effectively in the marketplace, thus limiting business opportunities to the multilingual and educated elite,” Tavárez said in an email interview.
This month, Tavárez visited Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, the community this project is geared toward helping, following an on-campus donation drive. The drive resulted in over 200 students in Haiti getting school supplies, hygienic products and textbooks. Tavárez noticed how ineffective and privatized the educational system was in Haiti.
As Tavárez herself is from the Dominican Republic, she also saw how Haitians crossing into the border of the Dominican Republic looking for land, fuel and work were having a hard time communicating. Hoping to change this, APL is seeking to add the regional language of Spanish into the curriculum and is now building a library to encourage the free access to knowledge for people outside this community as well.
“This library will serve to empower youth to create a positive impact on their personal and professional lives and in their communities by using knowledge, skills and proactive decision making,” Tavárez said.
Although it has been less than a year since the APL project was created, it has already become a registered corporation in California. It has also expanded to campuses not only in the United States, but also in Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Organizers of the project are currently working toward becoming a registered nonprofit organization. APL is also collaborating with Municipality of Anse-à-Pitres, Ministere de L’Education Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENFP), regional teachers within District Scolaire de Belle-Anse (Zone 6) and Hugopol Construcciones, S.A. to create the library and continue to educate the youth in Haiti.
For more information on their fundraisers, look for BFP on Facebook or visit their website at bottlesforpoverty.org. Weekly meetings are held on Wednesdays in 27 Wellman at 7:30 p.m.
“I always wanted to make a difference, but until I came up with idea of Bottles for Poverty, I did not know where to start. But reading about Dr. Rick Hodes and the work of JDC (Jewish Distribution Committee) in Ethiopia lit a flame inside me,” Haile said.
For additional information on APL, find them on Facebook or visit their website at annpreparelavni.webs.com to learn how to donate. APL will be hosting a movie night on Feb. 22 about Haiti at 10190 Systems Pkwy. in Sacramento and is asking for donations of school supplies in order to enter. They also have weekly meetings at the conference room in The Ramble apartments on Thursdays at 7 p.m.
“I understand the value of education, and how powerful it is when children have access to it. Education changes an individual life, therefore I want to bring this powerful tool to my dear and neighbor country, Haiti. Each child deserves free access to education and a better life,” Tavárez said.
MARIA MARCELINA CRYSTAL VEGA can be reached at email@example.com.