“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
As Baseline’s Division Manager, Rick Behning has extensive experience helping public- and private-sector clients with their civil engineering needs. However, none has meant more personally and professionally than his volunteer assignment in Tanzania for Be The Change Volunteers (BTCV). This development aid, non-profit was formed in 2007 when friends rebuilt a school used in the Rwanda Genocide. Its mission is to improve education opportunities worldwide.
BTCV primarily operates in developing-world countries and serves remote communities that demonstrate needs for educational facilities. Instead of sending funding to accomplish goals, the organization sends teams of self-funded volunteers who work as partners with local communities to provide sustainable solutions. One of this summer’s team members was Rick.
Rick’s work on the Upendo Encourage School in Arusha, Tanzania, helped BTCV get to a quarter of the way of reaching its goal–100 education-based, development-aid projects throughout the world. The school project entailed construction of a new building to house two classrooms. Rick was one of seven American volunteers who joined a large contingent of local Tanzanian volunteers to complete it in two weeks. The team’s work included repainting the original building; refurbishing and improving the office and kitchen; installing a water tank and plumbing for the school and latrine; and finishing a new playground with equipment that will be built using BTCV funds, retaining wall and stairs. In addition, the team paved the way for a second floor to be added in the future for housing teachers and volunteers.
What was the end result? The expansion allowed the school to increase its enrollment, launch a daycare and move to self-sustaining status.Also at the project’s completion, the team joined a celebration at the school with music, dancing, singing, jugglers, speeches and local food.