The School Newspaper of 'Iolani School.

Imua 'Iolani

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Building to Unite

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Imagine waking every morning with less than two dollars in your pocket, burdened with the responsibility of sustaining a family. What if you wanted nothing more than to provide your children the opportunity to lead a better life, yet could only afford to have them educated in local public schools victim to storm damage and government rejection? While such conditions sound so far-fetched from the secure atmosphere of ‘Iolani, poverty to some degree affects about 80% of the world’s population.

Unfortunately, the wealth of an area as a whole often dictates the quality of education available to its residents, and decent learning is not easily accessible. Impoverished schools and communities may feel isolated in their struggles, but what if something could be done on campus to help? Each year, a group of about 20 ‘Iolani students work together to ensure that their poor conditions of life and education do not go unregarded.

‘Iolani’s Building to Unite club focuses on aiding poverty in Cambodia and the Philippines with educational resources.

“Building to Unite is basically trying to raise money and awareness for child education in rural areas of countries that are not fortunate enough to maintain the atmosphere of their public schools.” said student club founder Sherry Shin ’18. “While many aspects of their lives could be improved, we believe that getting these children a decent education in a suitable environment is the best way to prepare them for the world ahead.”

The committee’s hope is that by receiving more better-organized instruction, the youths of the Philippines and Cambodia will make learning their primary objective. Those involved in this non-profit student workforce collaborate in fundraising through a series of activities intended to promote awareness of foreign poverty in our local community. “With more than 5,400 miles of open sea between Hawaiʻi and either country, the conditions of their lives have no direct effect on our islands,” says Shin. Building to Unite believes Hawaii’s residents need to recognize the gravity of the situation on a global scale, and the club urges people to spread the Aloha spirit by doing their part to help. From garage sales to monetary donations, the team works together all year to collect money and resources that will make a difference.

After witnessing poverty first-hand on a trip taken to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2015, Shin came to the realization that not much was being done to combat the issue of elevated poverty and was motivated to get together with some friends and start the club. However, her experiences with the locals of Cambodia and the Philippines have not been limited to one occasion. She and her family, along with close friend and co-founder Natalie Uhr ‘18, travel to either the Philippines or Cambodia each year to personally put the Building to Unite’s efforts into effect. They collaborate with the Honolulu YMCA and the Honolulu Rotary Club to provide direct construction service to run-down facilities and communicate with local children to promote a new awareness for education. The work acts as a bonding experience for everybody, and Shin and Uhr have spread the One Team spirit through many communities. The school-based committee back in Honolulu is recognized after every project is complete for providing primary construction funding.

Today, the efforts of Building to Unite not only serve to educate impoverished residents of Cambodia and the Philippines, but as part of the growing club, students can also learn to strive with their peers in attaining an objective of global scale. Participants will recognize the devastating effects poverty has on third-world countries and will finally be presented with an opportunity to help the cause.

The club is not limited to experienced individuals, and Shin encourages anybody to give it a try. “If you want to give back to others in need, feel good about doing so, and work with a really fun group of diligent workers and energetic people, then join Building to Unite!” For more information, contact Shin at [email protected] and don’t miss out on this unique chance to make a difference in our ever-changing world!

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The School Newspaper of 'Iolani School.
Building to Unite