Students fund school in Nepal

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Rachel Bass

Members of student organization Project Nepal have raised half of the $5,000 required to build a school and a library in a Nepalese village outside of Kathmandu and, after Saturday night’s Battle of the Bands fundraiser at Allen Hall, the club is closer to that goal, said Kyle Hegger, Project Nepal president and sophomore in engineering.

Hegger said the group was expecting 60 to 70 people to attend the fundraiser, but around 100 people attended, raising $200 for the project.

“The bands were excited to come out and play, and we definitely have more momentum going into our next fundraiser,” he said.

Local bands Machines That Think and BHS and Chicago-based Setonas competed. Machines That Think won the battle and was awarded a small handcrafted wooden guitar built by Project Nepal member Ben Valentine, sophomore in engineering.

Hegger and Allen Eghrari, University alumnus and former Illini Media Company employee, created Project Nepal in January. The money the group has raised since its creation has already funded construction on the school, which is slated for completion in December.

Tom Ferguson, sophomore in LAS and member of Project Nepal, said the fundraiser was a great success in gathering money and support for people in Nepal.

“Nepal is an impoverished nation,” Ferguson said. “Supplies are hard to come by and we’re trying to change that.”

Hegger said he and Eghrari chose to help Nepal because it has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.

“Five thousand dollars doesn’t get you far in the United States, but it can build a really nice school in Nepal and you have to start somewhere,” Hegger said. “Nepal is the place we found that we could have the greatest impact in that a little bit of money goes a long way. Besides, we’re from the world. There’s no reason we can’t help out kids from the world.”

Members of the club partnered with the international organization Room to Read, which Hegger said enlisted local labor and resources to help build the schools. That way, the community gains a sense of common ownership though professional engineers oversee the construction process. The belief behind this, Hegger said, was founded in the idea that education can break the cycle of poverty.

“When you’re educated, you’re not afraid to do things,” Hegger said. “You can stand up to people and you have the knowledge to go out and advance yourself in any way you want.”

Veronica Schubow, freshman in LAS, heard about the event through word-of-mouth and attended to support the cause.

“I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t help,” Schubow said. “People with a common goal can achieve a lot.”

“The amount of money we spend on four years of college could build 15 schools in Nepal,” Hegger said. “We will raise the money – there’s no option.”