Lehigh seniors Chae Eun Kim, '22, left, and Jessica Galarza, '22, right, received a $10,000 grant from Davis Projects for Peace. This grant aided the students in building a tutoring center for children in Bududa, Uganda. (Gary Fan/B&W Staff)

Lehigh students remotely work to build tutoring center in Uganda


Two Lehigh seniors, Chae Kim, ‘22, and Jessica Galarza, ‘22, built a tutoring center for children in Bududa, Uganda with the aid provided by the Davis Projects for Peace grant they received. 

Even without being able to take their intended trip to Uganda, the students created the tutoring center for kids who take part in a sports clinic at the nonprofit Pathways Development Initiative (PDI).  

Due to the pandemic, the schools in Uganda have been shut down for over a year. Children in Uganda, especially those in rural areas like Bududa, have lacked access to educational resources. 

“Education wasn’t exactly pushed (in Bududa) because there was no need for it since (children) could go back to their village and work, but this opportunity will encourage students to want to continue (schooling) and maybe go on to higher education,” Galarza said

Galarza said the funding of $10,000 from the Davis Projects for Peace grant allowed them to turn their vision into reality. The Davis Projects for Peace Grants are summer grants given to student-driven projects aiming to make positive differences in low or middle-income countries. 

Kim said the project has already positively impacted the children of Bududa’s lives, as they have been given an educational opportunity outside of their paused formal schooling.  

She said her inspiration for building the tutoring center came from a teaching internship for PDI during the summer of 2019. She spent two months working for the nonprofit and in doing so built strong connections with the families and organization. 

Kim said she knew she wanted to work with the PDI in the future to make a difference in the community. 

The lockdown in Uganda that lasted for over a month proved to be a challenge in Kim and Galarza’s project plan. People in Uganda weren’t allowed to travel between districts, therefore, the supplies and equipment needed to build the tutoring center were momentarily unattainable. 

The project proposal was originally based around Kim and Galarza traveling to Uganda. However, due to restrictions regarding the pandemic and other factors, they had to conduct the project remotely. 

Kim said the project taught her a lesson in overcoming adversity through being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances. During the lockdown, Kim said the founder of the sports clinic at PDI, Dezi Natala Zaale, kept Kim and Galarza in the loop with Zoom and phone calls.

The administrative director of Lehigh’s Office of Creative Inquiry, Bill Whitney, said the Davis Foundation understands the challenges that come from trying to complete projects under the circumstances of the pandemic. He said the foundation was flexible when grant recipients couldn’t travel to the countries where the projects were focused.  

Since starting the program, the size of the sports clinic in Bududa has almost tripled, Kim said. 

“The population in Bududa has a ton of young children, and schooling is a big issue, so to have this program at no cost is huge,” Kim said. 

Whitney said this is the second year the Lehigh Office of Creative Inquiry has administered the process of the Projects for Peace funded projects. 

“There are usually a few applicants, but we would love to see more. As the word gets out we are expecting to see more Lehigh students doing this kind of work, because these projects highlight what Lehigh students should want to do,” Whitney said. 

Kim is working with PDI for her senior capstone project, and she hopes to visit the tutoring center in Bududa in a future summer. She is excited to eventually see the tutoring center in person, as she has only been able to see photos and videos of it.

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1 Comment

  1. Annette Zaale champney on

    We are so grateful for this grant. It has been transformative to the young people and has helped us to scale up the children and youth program. We value our continued partnership with Lehigh University under the leadership of Prof. Kelly. Chae and Jessica, thank you for your vision for this project. You will be surprised to see the growth of the work once you are able to travel- hopefully soon.

    Annette Zaale Champney
    PDI President

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