Three Students Earn Davis UWC Projects for Peace Prizes

Two rising juniors and a rising senior have been awarded funding from the Davis UWC Projects for Peace to carry out humanitarian efforts around the globe this summer.

“Every year, our students have the opportunity to compete for $10,000 grants to create their vision of peace anywhere in the world through the Davis Projects for Peace Program, which is funded by the same folks who support the Davis UWC Scholars Program,” said Carol Smith, interim director of corporate and foundation relations. “The top project for each participating school is guaranteed funding, but we are also allowed to submit an alternate proposal which may or may not be funded. I’m pleased to report that both submitted projects were selected this year.”

The first project proposal came from Geovania Guterres Ornai ’19, of Timor-Leste, who graduated from UWC of South East Asia, and Margaret Urquhart ’19, of Center Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. The two will travel to the independent nation of Timor-Leste located on the eastern half of the island of Timor in South East Asia to carry out their project, titled “Renovation of the Maternity Unit and Patient Bathroom – Bairo Pite Clinic.”

The clinic began providing free healthcare to the people of Timor-Leste, during the violent occupation of the Indonesian army in the late 1990s. Funded entirely by donations, the clinic is now focused on providing a wide variety of medical services to Timorese residents. Geovania, herself, previously worked at the clinic, assisting in communications with local patients for the Tuberculosis Unit.

One of Bairo Pite Clinic’s current priorities is a proper sanitary bathroom facility for patients, as well as medical supplies for the maternity unit. Upon their arrival in the capital city Dili, Geovania and Margaret will meet with the clinic manager, discuss plans to renovate the clinic bathroom and hire local construction workers to complete the construction.

“Our vision is to show the Timorese people the importance of quality healthcare services for the underprivileged throughout the country,” Geovania and Margaret wrote in their proposal. “By renovating the patients’ bathroom facility at the clinic, we hope that Bairo Pite Clinic will be able to treat the Timorese community under proper medical conditions and stop the spread of disease.”

Read their complete proposal

The second funded project came from Francine Nihozeko ’18 of Bujumbura, Burundi, who graduated from Waterford Kamhlaba UWC. Her project, titled “A Thread that Weaves Peace,” aims to promote peace by bringing together approximately 15 young Burundi females aged 15 to 25 in targeted rural areas to collaborate with local agencies and develop an income-generating sewing program.

In 2015, after President Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term, thousands were killed in the subsequent ethnic violence, while 170,000 Burundians fled to neighboring countries. The unrest and exodus caused the economy to slow and unemployment to soar.

Under Nkurunziza, rural female students receive nine years of basic education, with an emphasis on technical skills such as sewing, weaving and plumbing. Those who fail the 9th grade exam are terminated from school and certified to join the working class or to start their own businesses. Francine hopes her project will to foster long-lasting peace by empowering and improving livelihoods of the rural young females who failed the 9th grade exam and are left hopeless.

“Since these young women have been deeply affected by the current unrest in the country, this will be an opportunity for them not only to recover, but to build hope for the future,” Francine wrote in her proposal. “The females will be selected from the poorest communities in Bururi Province and will represent all three ethnic groups, as well as different political parties.”

Read the complete proposal

The Davis Projects for Peace program invites undergraduates at American colleges and universities in the Davis UWC scholars program to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer. The objective of the program is to encourage and support motivated youth to create and carry out ideas for building peace. The projects judged to be the most promising and feasible receive $10,000 each.