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Two American graduate students raise funds for South African students with The Project Ubuntu

Inspired by their recent summer study abroad program in South Africa, Elizabeth Patterson and Amber Lodman made the decision to create The Ubuntu Project upon their return to their home country, the United States of America. 
In Cape Town, Amber Lodman and Elizabeth Patterson on their way to have a tour of Robben Island. The infamous Table Mountain is in the background. (Photo: Lodman) 
The Project Ubuntu is a grassroots fundraising effort to help students of the Bachana Mockwena and Reinotswe special schools in South Africa.  Elizabeth Patterson and Amber Lodman, the two founders of the Project Ubuntu, started the fundraiser with the aim of providing funds for infrastructure building as well as dinning halls for meals. This summer of 2013, they both went to South Africa to study education and social reform.

Ubuntu is a South African philosophy that means "I am because we are; my humanity is tied to yours." They both chose the name "Ubuntu" for the project because they both empathized with the plight of the students.

During the program, Patterson took a course that has allowed her to visit middle income and affluent institutions. Along with her colleagues, she said to have observed rural no fee schools and special schools for students who face physical and intellectual challenges. 

"My research was about inclusive education for special needs students," Ghanaian-American grad Patterson said."I empathized with the plight of these students and I wanted to advance their lives and their education."

According to Patterson, Bachana Mockwena is a mainstram school in the Ga-rankwa district of South Africa. There, the student population is made of a mix of orphaned students and others of equally undeserved populations. Harry Rappo, the principal and founder of the school, hopes to build a dining hall to facilitate a free meals programs for his students.

Patterson posing with a South African student. (Photo: Patterson)

The Project Ubuntu co-founder Lodman, who hopes to inspire the power of community in others and to raise awareness that we are of the world and we must give back, echoes Patterson's sentiments.

"Elizabeth [Patterson] and I had a conversation towards the end of our journey in South Africa. We shared a need to start a philantropy," Lodman said. "We collectively working to make sure this project succeeds by hosting a fundraising event and maintaining a fundraising website."

Amber Lodman surrounded by South African students. (Photo: Lodman)

For Lodman, people should support The Project Ubuntu because it embodies what the South African philosophy Ubuntu is all about: humanity and acknowledging that you are because of others. For Patterson, education is a human right and every child should have be given the opportunity to go to school.

On Friday, November 8, 2013, Patterson and Lodman will held a fundraising event featuring a silent auction, raffle and more for their Project Ubuntu. All proceeds will benefit to the Reinitswe special school and Bachana Mokwena school of Garankwa in South Africa.


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