Anna Will, a senior interior architecture major, came home from a Habitat for Humanity trip with a mission. She wanted to design a school for the Kyekyewere village she had visited in Ghana, Africa.
Anna had seen the lust for learning in the Kyekyewere children, who had to walk several miles to school in neighboring villages. [One of these distant schools is in visual.]
“It was upsetting to hear children explain that they probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to see the future they dreamed of just because they didn’t think they were capable of making it to university,” she says. “Witnessing this determination to learn made me realize how important it was to bridge the gap between reality and dreams to better the futures of these children.”
The children’s dreams are fast becoming reality. Hannah Rose Mendoza (Interior Architecture) and Anna’s fellow design students quickly embraced Anna’s idea. The project represented the same community-engaged social activism that Interior Architecture had invested in earlier projects like Our Sister Susan’s House, a home for single teen moms and their children.
Anna and other students worked under Mendoza, adopting the school design project as part of their coursework. Final designs will be chosen, and several of the students will travel to Ghana in January to help build the school.
“The world is much smaller than we realize; students at UNCG need to understand the importance of global involvement and thinking beyond our school, state and country,” Anna says.
Mendoza has put in countless extra hours on the project. She has written to ambassadors, Nestle, even Oprah, to raise funds for the project. She has recruited help and advice at UNCG and beyond, engaging local businesses as well as structural engineering students and a Ghana-born professor of agricultural economics from NC A&T.
“We’re trying to build as broad a coalition as possible,” Mendoza says.
In designing a school for Kyekyewere where there is no phone service, no electricity, no plumbing, no air-conditioning, and no means to replace broken glass, Mendoza’s students are facing unique challenges.
“They are having to step outside of their own experience of what a school is,” she says.
Mendoza looks on the Ghana project as a pilot for future global design projects, hopefully building a school somewhere in the world every two years.
Follow the Ghana project, Building Hope, or make a donation by visiting http://iarcghana.wordpress.com/. Numerous fundraisers, including a benefit concert, are detailed on the site.
Visual: A school the students currently walk miles to attend
By Michelle Hines
Photography by Anna Will.