Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Law professor builds classrooms a world away

As a war crimes tribunal prosecutor for the United Nations in Rwanda, Sturm College of Law visiting professor David Akerson saw firsthand the ravages of war and the price of ignorance.

So he went a step further than prosecuting those who committed crimes in the past. Working with a team of Coloradans who also have seen how far a little money goes in other parts of the world, he helped set up a charity that will educate the leaders of the future in at least one corner of the globe.

The program, the Africa School Assistance Project, focuses on the African nation of Tanzania, where a government initiative provides teachers to any village that builds a schoolhouse.

“They dig up mud and make bricks to build the walls, but it’s slow going,” Akerson says. “What we do is find these villages in the process of building a classroom, and we help them along. We put in cement floors, ceilings, windows. For $15,000, we can finish a three-classroom school and that gets them three teachers. For the first time, these villages would have the ability to educate 150 children.”

Akerson says amounts that seem small to American donors go a long way in Africa. For example, $75 buys a desk for three children and $500 buys all the textbooks needed for an entire classroom.

The group is holding a fundraiser Dec. 5 at Denver’s Wynkoop Brewery. At the event, donors can also learn about volunteering for a trip to Tanzania to actually visit one of the villages and help build a school.

“We get a lot of bang for the buck,” Akerson says. “Money over there goes a long way.”

For more information, visit the charity’s website.

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