North Central College - Naperville, IL

Student from Rwanda Builds schools in the Congo

Three years ago, Etienne Mashuli ’13 was adjusting to the bitter cold, the bounty of Naperville supermarkets and life as a North Central student.

Today, he’s focused on returning the riches of his new life to help children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he lived as a refugee after escaping the violence of Rwanda. He’s helped establish a primary school (pictured) through an organization called Ubuntu Academy, which he co-founded with a University of Chicago student.

“The school is run by a committee of parents and teachers,” he says. “We’re trying to raise more funds to complete the school’s construction, to sponsor some of the kids and to pay the teachers.”

Mashuli has been spreading the word among students and faculty on North Central’s campus and several organizations have embraced the fund-raising challenge he’s calling a One-Dollar Campaign. “We hope to mobilize each student, faculty and staff member to contribute a dollar to the project,” he says. “If successful, this will be enough to build another classroom.” Each classroom costs $1,500.

The NCC Atheist, Agnostic and Humanist Society and NCC for Africa recruited a coalition of other student organizations to raise funds for Ubuntu, including Circle K, OUTreach, Sigma Tau Delta, Focus, Green Scene and Cardinals In Action.

Mashuli plans to visit the school this coming summer.

“As a survivor, I kept on thinking of the ways I could act to address the violence that’s continuing in this region,” he says. “The idea came to me that we could help build peace by providing educational opportunities. That is how I come into the picture. The people of the Congo have gone through so much pain. But they are very resilient and resourceful people. They want to make their country better and education is necessary to unlock their potential and create a new generation of leaders. We can offer them a little help in this difficult struggle.”