March 22, 2014
A local group is drumming up money so kids in in another part of the world can go to school.
Raise the Roof Haiti held a night of African drumming at the Fry's Spring Beach Club in Charlottesville. The night, which also featured Haitian food and a silent auction, aimed to raise money to build a school for children in Haiti.
Lauren Ewell, a student at the Renaissance School, found the Raise the Roof group. The work began as her senior thesis project.
"It's kind of morphed into a really, really huge senior thesis project," Ewell said.
She saw a film called "Girl Rising" on UVa grounds last Spring. The movie followed the stories of several girls around the world.
"It talked about their struggles with education and how determined they were to get an education. And, after that, I felt really compelled to take action and do something in whatever way I could to help," said Ewell. "I had to get a team of passionate people together and it kinda just all happened."
The group is a high school chapter of buildOn, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in areas of extreme poverty. It open to all, but is comprised several other Renaissance School students along with some adults. They meet weekly at the Renaissance school.
"We picked Haiti because, after the earthquake, it was just so devastated and there was a lot of poverty. I think that everyone can do something to help. So, this is our little way of helping," Ewell said.
buildOn makes sure that 30% of the student body is female.
"I think that's incredibly important because that's a problem of our time, and I think that we need to realize that and work together to help girls get an education," said Ewell.
The group will travel to Haiti in June for a week to help build the school.
"It's really fun. My hope is that we'll inspire other young people to do development work and this kind of work."
Going into Friday night's drumming, the group had raised a little more than $26,000. Their goal is $35,000.
"It's great to see everyone get involved," Elizabeth Culbertson, a homeschooled 9th grader and member of the team, said of the night.
"And it's great to see everyone support the project," added Ewell. "It's really nice."