Delta Gamma member volunteers in Senegal, will deliver speech on humanitarianism
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 22:09
While many students were at the beach enjoying summer vacation, senior Delta Gamma member Megan O’Brien took part in a weeklong school-building program in Senegal.
O’Brien will be leading a talk about her experience, the cause behind the Circle of Sisterhood foundation and how the university community can participate or get involved today at 6:30 p.m in Mitchell Hall.
Adam Cantley, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the university, says every fraternity and sorority chapter has philanthropy or community service required. O’Brien says she was chosen after the university’s Panhellenic community, made up of 10 chapter sororities, raised a significant amount of money last year for their philanthropy organization, the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation.
“The university’s Panhellenic community gave over $7,000 to the Circle of Sisterhood by raising money from Airband, selling T-shirts and other fundraising events,” Cantley says.
Ginny Carroll, the founder and curator of the board of trustees for the Circle of Sisterhood, says the foundation is a U.S. charity founded by sorority women to support institutes around the world.
“We are not only made up of sorority women,” Carroll says. “We have fraternity men and about 100 volunteers that are educated women. Only 7 percent of the world has college degrees. We are a community of educated women helping people who do not have that privilege.”
Circle of Sisterhood’s mission is to “leverage the collective wisdom and influence of sorority women to support entities around the world that remove educational barriers for girls and women, uplifting them from poverty and oppression,” according to the organization’s website.
O’Brien says she and 14 other sorority women from across the nation spent eight days in July breaking ground for a new school located in a small village in Senegal. O’Brien says she stayed with a host family in a compound composed of only a few huts.
The week-long trip felt a lot longer than it actually was because it was completely technology free, O’Brien says. The compound had no electric, clean or running water and only a single stall that acted as a restroom, she says.
Senegal is the westernmost country on the African continent with a population of approximately 13.3 million. According to the CIA World Factbook, 54 percent of the population of Senegal lives below the poverty line and 49.7 percent are literate. Twenty-eight percent live without clean water, and 48 percent do not have access to sanitary facilities.
O’Brien says all the work building the new school was done by hand, and no machinery was involved. Bricks were crafted by hand from cement and water, and pickaxes and shovels were used to dig. Kids from the compound formed an assembly line to assist with the building, she says.
“The old school was four posts with a straw roof and was not an adequate learning environment,” O’Brien says. “The new school is now a sturdy building with a roof, two classrooms and blackboards. The new learning environment should allow for more opportunities for the children of Senegal.”
Carroll says one of the Circle of Sisterhood’s partnering organizations, buildOn, determined that West Africa, specifically Senegal, was in the most need for a new school.
“We partner with and support a lot of organizations,” Carroll says. “This is the first time we’ve embarked on a school building program like this, but due to the success it had, we probably won’t hesitate to do it again in the future.”
According to buildOn’s website, the international nonprofit organization’s mission is to “break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education.” This is accomplished by running after school programs in high schools across the nation and by building schools in developing countries.
Cantley says there are ways others can get involved in Greek life events around campus.
“There are certain events that are exclusive to only fraternity and sorority members, but we do hold open events, frequently on The Green, that are open to anybody willing to participate,” Cantley says.