When George Srour, BT founder and executive director, first visited Uganda as a United Nations intern, he recognized that there was a real and effective way to help the millions of underserved children throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Inspired and emboldened, he returned to the College of William & Mary, ready to do his part to help the children he met overseas.
In December of 2004, the College of William & Mary accomplished an extraordinary thing. Through their Christmas in Kampala campaign, students raised almost $45,000 to fund the construction of a new school in Kampala, Uganda. In May 2006, the students at William & Mary could see the results of their hard work with the completion of Meeting Point Kampala.
With that, a movement was born. Srour was awarded the inaugural Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose that allowed him to make building schools for children in sub-Saharan Africa a full-time job. Building Tomorrow was created as a continuation of Christmas in Kampala, to empower young people to make a difference in their global community.
A moment of obligation
It was near darkness inside the one-room building the students of Meeting Point Kampala called their school. The only light that made it in came courtesy of termites and their appetite for the wooden planks used to board up the school’s walls. Four classes, each with about 125 students, took a corner of the room and seated on the dirt floor, embarked on mastering the day’s lesson. Remarkably, many children were content, focused and enamored with the chance to learn.
As we exited the school, one of the school’s leaders mentioned the amount it would take to properly rebuild the structure, negating the need for parents to come board up the walls twice a year to slow the termite damage.
I did the math. If I returned to school and asked every student at William & Mary to give $1.81, we could give hundreds of kids the chance to learn in a proper, well-constructed building.
$1.81. One dollar and eighty-one cents.
Meeting Point Kampala’s new school building opened nearly three years after that visit. Seven years and over $1.4 million dollars later, that calculation of obligation and the power of any size a contribution remains at the heart of Building Tomorrow’s work both in the United States and in Uganda.