Empowering. In one word, Deana Guarino ’15 describes her volunteer experience in Uganda with Pangea Educational Development (PED)—a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable education.
After graduating from North Central College in June, Guarino hopped on a plane to Entebbe, Uganda, to volunteer with PED for two weeks. PED works with communities in Uganda to improve schools, stimulate the local economy and empower leaders.
Only six months earlier, Guarino—a history major and student worker in the College Archives—had travelled to Ghana with fellow students and faculty for a D-Term study abroad course. Guarino knew that if she returned to Africa, it would be as a volunteer.
Guarino learned about PED through a friend and immediately fell in love with its mission.
“With this organization, you go to a Ugandan school, make a connection with the faculty and ask, ‘What do you think this school needs?’” says Guarino.
The Ugandan school Guarino visited lacked women’s latrines. In one week, Guarino and nine other volunteers built new latrines, which will make a lasting impact on the community for years to come by increasing the female attendance at the school.
The latrines supplement the dormitories that PED constructed the previous summer. Before the dormitories were built, young women had to walk 5 to 7 miles to the school each day, making regular attendance difficult.
“Many Ugandan women have trouble attending school past their primary years for family reasons. They either help at home or marry early, and the walking distance can make school impossible. The project I worked on made attending high school for these women a choice.”
Her second week in Uganda, Guarino worked directly with teachers and students. She used her history knowledge while discussing teaching methods with Ugandan history teachers and assisted students with their history homework.
“The organization really encouraged us to form relationships with the students.”
Upon reflection, Guarino explains the humbling and rewarding experience of empowering Ugandans in their own communities. She left Uganda knowing that she physically created sustainable change.
“This is something I’m going to do every year that I’m able to. It’s amazing to work with a group of young people who just want to change the world.”
To learn more about the trip or PED, visit pangeaeducation.org.
By Lauren Baltas ’16