Indianapolis for the summer…?


I never imagined spending the summer after my Junior year of college in the cornfields, a.k.a Indianapolis. But here’s how I got here…

Watch this first.

My friend Wilson is 8 years old. He lives in the Global Samaritans Children’s Home in Livingstone, Zambia. I got to know Wilson two years ago when I traveled to Livingstone to spend two weeks at Global Samaritans, a nonprofit orphanage and school, where I spent time hanging out with kids and learning lessons of faith, humility, and the beauty of material simplicity. As a 6 year old, Wilson couldn’t quite get the long “a” sound right in “Blake,” and instead pronounced my name “Bleck” (a common theme among the Africans I met). I can still hear him summoning me to come play outside in one of his many games. I will tell you, there aren’t many things more wonderful than hearing those kids learn your name and invite you into their world. So, what does Wilson the Zambian have to do with building schools in Uganda? Not everything, but a lot—for me.

I am one of thousands of twenty-something year-old, privileged American girls that have fallen in love with a group of kids in Africa. It’s not all that unique or special anymore to be devoted to helping under-privileged African children; in fact, hate to say it, but it’s become pretty cliché. So why bother with this effort in the first place? Are we really making a difference or just following a trend?

As an intern at BT national headquarters this summer, there are two big brown eyes looking down on me. No literally, there is a huge face on the wall:

His name is Ventril, and he grins at me every day while I work. I’ve never met the kid, and probably never will, but for some reason when I look at him I think of Wilson—of his infectious smile, his perpetual energy, his pair of Crocs, and the way that he pronounces my name. And that’s just it.

Let’s face it, my personal involvement in BT hasn’t affected anything. If I weren’t here someone else would be. But it’s not about what I am doing to “help kids in Africa.” It’s about recognizing how I can be useful to someone else, and how what I have access to can be better invested somewhere else. It’s about tapping into the joy that Wilson has given me, and then paying it forward. As a college student, I have access to power in numbers, as well as the chance to be a part of an effort that contributes to the increase of something as vital as education. This is what Building Tomorrow is.

Uganda is certainly not Zambia. Ventril and Wilson are completely different people, with completely different lives. But consider the ways in which their access to a school has enriched both of their lives—creating stability, direction, imagination, and joy, like our education has provided for all of us. Consider the ways in which all of these things unify a community and build up a country.


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