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African Scholars Team Up to Give Back

 
Working together, Wartburg College graduating seniors Lomoro “Moses” Santino and Yvonne Ayesiga have become a force for positive action, back in Africa and on the American campus they’ve also called home. 
 
“Moses and I share a common background,” said Yvonne. “We come from very poor communities, and we’ve been given this opportunity to be Davis UWC Scholars and attend U.S. colleges. These are immense opportunities — and this is our chance to give back.”
 
Yvonne (Uganda, UWC-USA) and Moses (South Sudan, UWC Costa Rica) first collaborated on a Davis Project for Peace in summer 2011, when they built latrines in two South Sudan schools to enable girl students, 430 in all, to have privacy for hygiene. 
 
“The aim was mostly to encourage young girls to go to school,” Moses explained. Uncomfortable with school toilets used by both sexes, he said, many girls stay home from school, especially while menstruating, then fall behind, grow discouraged, and drop out. This project was one small way to help more South Sudanese become educated, and better able to contribute to the young, war-ravaged nation.
 
“Maybe one person’s efforts, or one organization’s, is not very much,” Moses observed. “But if we put all these together, we have the capacity to start economic development.”
 
Yvonne and Moses knew the latrines would fill up in several years. So last spring they won funding, through a foundation based at Wellesley College, to work on installing biogas digesters at the sites. 
 
At the same time, Yvonne has used $200 of her own money to start a micro-lending project, to help women become income-earners near her home in Uganda. And at Wartburg, the two students have formed the student group We ImpacTogether, to organize and fundraise for more projects going forward.
 
“We got the inspiration from the Davis Projects for Peace,” said Yvonne, who was named a 2013 Dell Social Innovation Challenge Ambassador by the computer firm for her work in promoting social innovation on campus.
 
“We hope the students will carry this on,” added Moses, who was honored this year as a Commitment Maker by the Clinton Global Initiative University project. “We ourselves are still committed.”