Student Group Supports FDNC

Allison Rahill

This semester at Colgate, the Students for Students group is actively participating in organizing a fundraiser for a specific project that will benefit the education of others around the world. Seniors Jen Etkin and Lindsey Jacobson brought Students for Students to campus last year.

“Students for Students is a student-run organization through the [Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education] COVE that supports unprivileged students at underfunded schools around the world. We seek to raise awareness and directly impact at-risk, vulnerable communities and children,” co-President Etkin said.

Students for Students is a unique charity group in that those involved work directly for a specific cause and a designated goal in mind. This semester the group has chosen to sponsor the proposal of junior Becca McArthur, who spent this past summer in Mbale, Uganda working for the Foundation of the Development of Needy Communities (FDNC).

FDNC is a Ugandan-based, grassroots, non-governmental and non-profit organization that was founded in 1996, which works to promote development and self-reliance in the most impoverished areas of Eastern Uganda. McArthur acts as the project leader under the guiding support of co-Presidents Etkin and Jacobson. McArthur’s idea began with her dedication to the project entitled Babaana Dreams, which translates to “A Child Dreams” in Ligisu, the local language of Mbale. Babaana Dreams plans to raise money to support a specific branch of the FDNC known as the Kisakye Memorial Special Needs Unit (KMSNU), which provides education to mentally and physically disabled children who would otherwise be ignored in the community.

Students for Students will host an event this semester in order to raise money for KMSNU, specifically so they can hire qualified teachers to aid in the educational training of the disabled children. KMSNU is working to meet several requirements so that it may become recognized, one of which is to hire more instructors and thus lower the student-to-teacher ratio. If this goal is accomplished, the Ugandan government will formally recognize KMSNU as a registered institution within the Mbale District Educational Office and receive further funding for its future promotion.

Currently, there is one teacher responsible for meeting the needs of over forty disabled children, with twenty-six different disabilities. If Babaana Dreams is a success, KMSNU will be able to hire three additional special-needs instructors, therefore lowering the student-to-teacher ratio to about one teacher per ten students. Furthermore, if KMSNU becomes formally recognized they will continue to receive governmental support from Ugandan officials. If KMSNU is able to accomplish these goals, it will greatly influence the community in Mbale, as well as people throughout Uganda, because it will be the first form of support that disabled children will receive. Unfortunately, parents of disabled children are shamed within the community because of their child’s shortcomings, and information about these children’s disabilities is not widely disseminated. Although FDNC and KMSNU are working to combat these negative attitudes, the stigma remains socially present.