5 students receive funds for ‘peace projects’
Five Duke students received Davis Projects for Peace awards for two proposals selected in a competition for funding worth $10,000 each.
Sophomores Rebecca Agostino, Joshua Greenberg, Erica Jain and Eddie Zhang were awarded for their project, “Confronting Malaria in Mbarara, Uganda,” which will be anchored in a partnership with the Mayanja Memorial Hospital in Mbarara. Senior Jane Chong, a Chronicle columnist, received funding for her project, “Concretizing and Mobilizing the Wall-less Classroom in Abuja, Nigeria.”
The Davis Projects for Peace is in its third year and is open to undergraduates across the nation. The program solicits grassroots projects from students to be implemented this summer to “encourage and support today’s motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace,” according to the Davis Projects for Peace Web site.
“I was just really excited,” Zhang said. “We’d been looking for funding to fund our summer project and this will be a really good way to start.”
Agostino noted that the project had already been in development for 12 months, ever since Dr. Benon Mugerwa, director of Mayanja Memorial Hospital, visited Duke in March 2008 and shared his vision for the hospital.
“What we’re trying to do is a combination malaria education and prenatal care program, so it’s targeting women in southwest Uganda of reproductive age,” Zhang said.
The group aims to work in villages with their community partner and outreach program to distribute malaria nets in a region where almost half of the population is affected by the disease. Zhang said his team also plans to conduct malaria and prenatal education campaigns and collect data about the area’s health indicators.
Ten Duke undergraduates will be visiting Mbarara this summer as a part of the project, including Zhang and Greenberg.
Chong’s project focuses on mobilizing the wall-less classroom in Nigeria.
“Right now that’s only one classroom, in one area, and we have so many volunteer teachers wanting to teach, just waiting in the wings,” she said.
Her proposal came from her experience last summer in Abuja struggling to establish learning situations through a complicated bureaucracy and infrastructure, Chong said.
“I decided to figure out another way, and I thought of a wall-less classroom,” she said. “We literally just set it up within a week and the demand was overwhelming-it was really heartening to see how much they wanted education.”
Chong said she was excited and lucky to pursue her project.
“It’s really strange right now because everything’s wrapping up with senior year, but I have this amazing project to look forward to,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to going back to Nigeria and seeing familiar faces again.”
The Davis Projects for Peace competition is funded by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who first contributed $1 million for 100 Projects for Peace on her 100th birthday in February 2007. Projects are judged on promise and viability.