Student groups to build, ship classroom to South Africa
Published: Friday, September 26, 2008
Updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 16:05
On the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 21, students and members of the Greenville community gathered on E-field in the name of international philanthropy and to celebrate the launch of the Cargo of Dreams project.Brought to campus by Africa Rising and Heller Service Corps, the project will make Furman the first college or university in America to build and ship a school to South Africa.
The container, or "edutainer," will be stationed on E-field until Nov. 25 when it is shipped to a location in South Africa via cargo ship. The container itself cost approximately $3,000, but with shipping costs (estimated to be near $8,000), the project will total $15,000. Thus far, Heller Service Corps has provided $5,700 towards the cause and are the primary financial resource.
Caitlyn Griffith, the president of Africa Rising (formerly Tears for Africa) who is currently taking a leave of absence to do mission work in Kenya and Uganda this term, approached Andrew Barnhill, the student director of Heller Service Corps, with the project in the spring of 2008. After considering what seemed an incredible feat, Student Life Vice President Connie Carson and university President David Shi deemed it a feasible project for the university to tackle.
According to its website, Cargo of Dreams is a non-profit organization created by Mars van der Colff in 2002 with the goal of providing schools to underprivileged children with impoverished backgrounds, especially in the townships of South Africa. Van der Colff, who has worked in the Brain Injury Program at Greenville Hospital, is the founder, chairman and executive director. He started the program as a Christian relief organization and decided to dedicate his life to it. He currently lives in South Africa, where he had already spent extensive time, receiving his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pretoria.
Furman pledged to build one 40 by 8 foot cargo that will become a girls' bathroom, a kitchen and a classroom. Heller has divided the project into five phases: engaging our community, gathering supplies, constructing on E-Field, raising support and assembling in Africa. The first step is encourages everyone from the Furman and Greenville communities to join together in creating this school.
"Once you touch it, it impacts you, especially when it's something bigger than yourself," said Reece Lyerly, the Africa Rising president until Griffith returns in the spring.
The entire project is heavily community dependent. Money must be raised for shipping costs, and the two groups are looking to campus organizations and churches, construction companies and local businesses to help with procuring other supplies such as toilets for the girls' bathroom.
The majority of the school will be constructed on E-field, but the work does not stop there. Once the cargo is in South Africa, the community will contribute to building the rest of the school.
"That's part of the beauty," said Barnhill. "The project involves community and is mutually beneficial."
There will be two other cargo containers that will be purchased and constructed in South Africa. Once Furman's container and the other two containers are in place, members of the African community will help to install windows and roofing. Furman has only pledged to build one, but Lyerly is certain that the community's efforts will allow Furman to contribute supplies for the other cargos.