Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On Campus

Student lends a helping hand in South Africa

A UW-Eau Claire student is using her giving spirit to help schoolchildren in South Africa. 

Betty Walter, a senior geology major at UW-Eau Claire from Rochester, Minn., has partnered with the Kliptown Youth Program for her service-learning project.

Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), a nonprofit organization founded in 2007, helps lift people from poverty through education. The organization’s goal is to provide basic necessities such as better schools, health clinics, electricity and sanitation.

The program is in Kliptown, South Africa, a township 10 miles southwest of Johannesburg. Kliptown is a place known for its cultural history and the significant role it played in shaping South African government.

“The purpose of my project is to raise donations for KYP and use the donations to buy tablets and school supplies, which I will deliver during my South Africa semester abroad,” Walter said.

The money Walter raises for KYP will provide resources for educational programs aimed at helping schoolchildren break the poverty cycle. The supplies donated by Walter and her fellow volunteers will be sent into classrooms to help with hands-on learning activities and meals. for children.

Due to a long history of apartheid and racial conflict, schoolchildren in South Africa struggle to gather the basic resources for school. 

After hearing about KYP through UW-Eau Claire professors Brian Mahoney and Lori Snyder, Walter decided to be part of the project. 

“Brian and Lori spoke passionately of how overwhelming, yet humbling, their journey was to Kliptown,” Walter said. “It was an eye-opening experience that challenged their perspectives and brought to light how privileged Americans really are.”

After years of segregation, Kliptown has struggled to integrate the black community into predominantly white neighborhoods. As a result, the village has come to be known as a “shack town,” where a large majority of the black community does not have equal access to quality housing or education.

Walter’s experiencing firsthand the harsh reality for children in Kliptown has impacted her outlook, she said. 

“I have come to realize how different my narrative is from people who struggle to acquire basic human necessities,” she said.

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