Tonya Strickland

Broadening life perspective, supporting education and encouraging travel abroad are some of the ideals that back the Cal Poly chapter of Student World Assembly (SWA). The organization is pulling in funds to send directly to Kenyan schools via travelers who will document their excursion on video to show in fall 2006.

“It will be an amazing experience for anyone coming from the United States,” said Vuk Pavicevic, SWA chapter president and architecture senior. “They will be able to directly help an African child; that’s huge.”

The plan is two-fold: instead of sending money through a government organization, SWA chapter members are seeking out someone who already plans to travel abroad in summer 2006, ideally to Africa, Pavicevic said. SWA will hand off seven months of fundraising income to that traveler who will directly give it to a designated Kenyan school. Along the way, the traveler will video tape the experience so third world images can be brought back to Cal Poly, potentially encouraging others to pursue similar ventures.

“These ideas fit very well with the mission of SWA,” he said. “We support knowledge because knowledge is power.”

Video footage would ideally include interviews with African community members, illustrating what life is like on the continent, and hopefully capturing the passion for education many of their people possess, Pavicevic said.

With every penny from fundraising efforts going to the Kenyan schools, SWA will not cover travel expenses, but may loan a camcorder to those wanting to participate, Pavicevic said.

Laura Meredith and Diana Collins, both June 2005 Cal Poly graduates and former SWA chapter members, helped to inspire this plan ” basing much of it on what they learned from their travels to Africa in August. Through international networking with other SWA chapters across the globe, they met up with Willis Alala, SWA chapter president of the University of Nairobi, to aide education efforts to an orphan school there lacking essential school supplies including books, pencils, pens, paper, chalk and lessons in English or Swahili, Collins said.

“Laura, Willis and I planted mango and avocado trees at the school during our visit to help with development,” she said.

In describing the orphan school set up, Meredith said the characteristics represent some of the potential schools SWA may plan to aide.

She said the school is very basic, lacking windows and doors. One structure has been built while the foundation has been laid for other buildings. However, further development is delayed because of the steep costs of cement and roofing in Africa.

“The main classroom is basically a bunch of bricks stacked up to a corrugated iron roof,” Meredith said. “I’d say it’s comparable to half the size of one of my elementary school classrooms at home except there are roughly 60 to 80 children on the floor.”

She also said the people who organize the school show true commitment to its development.

“They sacrifice a lot when they don’t have a lot to sacrifice,” Meredith said.

The funds generated from the Cal Poly SWA chapter could either be used to assist in the building of primary schools, which provide free tuition under government programs, or to cover tuition to individual students with the desire to attend secondary schools, Pavicevic said.

“People are very passionate about education – the desire to become educated is high,” he said. “But so few people there can afford it.”

Collins said the cost of secondary schooling is close to $300 a year to attend, which is a total of four years schooling and comparable to a high school education in the United States.

“That amount of money is a lot more in Africa than it is here,” Pavicevic said.

Because of this, he said he believes that the funds collected through hosting events, selling baked goods, writing donation letters and setting up booths throughout the campus and San Luis Obispo community will be significant to bettering the lives of many children in Africa.

“Any kind of help will make a tremendous difference in their lives,” Pavicevic said.

Those wishing to donate money to the Kenyan education fund or interested in traveling abroad for SWA should contact Vuk Pavicevic at

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