We had the unique experience of going to a school opening. Trailblazer Foundation has fundraised and constructed 8 schools now. They work with the government to identify where new school are needed (population increases or lack of access) or school rebuilds because buildings are no longer safe. This week there were two school openings both due to dilapidation. It ended up being like a ribbon cutting ceremony. The school provided breakfast bread and water for all the students and the community families. The monks gave a blessing, governement and school officials and large donors gave speeches. The main donor came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant and now owns a multi-million dollar company. His daughter threatened him to give away his money or she will just buy cats with all her inheritance. So he has started doing just that beginning with these 2 schools. He was moved to tears during his speech talking about how he started out just like them in a poor village and shared classrooms, but with hard work, determination and a little luck they can be anything they want. In a time when I feel like all the information provided are extremes either aimed at criminalizing immigrants or saying our country couldn‘t survive without them, it was refreshing and eye opening to talk to an actual person and learn their story and see their success. The new buildings are 6 classrooms, a library, bathrooms and a kitchen/serving area so the school can begin to provide break for the morning students (kids only go to school for half days here unless they attend a private institution). The total rebuild was around $80,000 and will serve over 400 students. The thing I appreciate about how Trailblazer does school builds is they give the building back to the government. They are in charge of supplies and paying teaches ensuring it will continue. Some nonprofits build schools but then have to abandon them because they can’t raise funds to consistently pay teachers or rely on a revolving door of volunteers. The other community aspect is Trailblazer specifically adds to the contract that the construction company employs so many community members to help in job training and enhancing the employability of the village they are profiting off by getting the bid. All of the finer details that I wouldn’t necessarily consider but am glad to have learned about.
Ask me about having to sit on stage and the clean up of the ceremony if you want more stories about this day.