Dressed for a trip to the gym, UNC students and Chapel Hill community members in the Pit began pedaling toward Uganda on Monday.
The figurative journey marked the beginning of UNC’s inaugural Bike to Uganda event, which is intended to raise money to build a primary school in Uganda.
UNC is home to the newest chapter of Building Tomorrow, an organization that aims to encourage philanthropy among young people by raising awareness and funds to build and support educational infrastructure projects for under-served children in sub-Saharan Africa.
There will be 10 stationary bikes set up in the Pit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and in Polk Place on Wednesday this week to symbolically bike the 7,402 miles between UNC and a proposed school in Kampala, Uganda.
Students, faculty members, staff and community members will bike in half-hour increments for a donation of at least $5.
Senior Natalie Sutton, a business administration major and director of the UNC’s chapter of Building Tomorrow, said she wanted to make a lasting impact in her senior year.
“The best way to empower people in Uganda is through education,” she said.
“Over 50 percent of Uganda’s population is under the age of 15, and only half of them will complete primary school, so this is the best way to facilitate an opportunity for children to get an education,” she added.
Sutton said she hopes to raise $10,000 this week, and most of the spots for the event are already filled. She added that she hopes to make UNC the first school to raise $45,000 this year in order to start building a school this summer.
Building Tomorrow’s goal is to have every Ugandan child less than 15 years old in school by 2015, Sutton said. In order to achieve this, Uganda needs to build 4,988 classrooms annually between now and 2015.
George Srour, founder and director of Building Tomorrow, said he is excited about UNC’s being part of Building Tomorrow and that he trusts Sutton will achieve her goal.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if UNC raised enough money to build two schools,” he said.
“With the size of UNC’s campus, great community involvement and the work that Natalie has already done, it would not be much of a stretch to think about the possibility of UNC’s chapter helping thousands of children in Uganda.”
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