Reflecting on 4 Years of School Building

Geoff

Our founder, Geoff Morgan, reflects on our first four years of Building Walls of Wisdom as we look forward to the next four.


This year we celebrated Building Walls of Wisdom’s fourth anniversary in Northern Ghana visiting some of the communities we have supported through our school building projects. Reflecting on the experience and looking back at our four-year history here are the four things I have learned from the journey.

1) Don’t let your dreams die within you…sharing them with others is the beginning of reality.


Our dreams begin in our hearts and minds as fragile glimpses of what is possible. These embryotic ideas are easy to dismiss because they seem too distant, far beyond our reach. The idea of sharing these delicate thoughts with others seems ridiculous, as there are a dozen reasons they will never come to fruition. However if you are brave enough to show the world what is inside you, it will be the beginning of turning your dreams into reality.

Composing an email four years ago outlining my dream of a world without poverty, a world in which every child could receive an education and sharing my plan to build schools was one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life.

Once I had sent the email to dozens of people I was left waiting feeling exposed and helpless having expressed some of my most intimate feelings in a very public way. With the first positive response came relief (at least I wasn’t alone) and then as my inbox began to fill I was soon amazed. Since those first few emails hundreds of individuals from all over the world have shared in my dream to eradicate poverty through the development of education.

Our time is limited and too many people leave us without sharing their dream. It is tragic to think about the books that go unwritten, the music that is never composed or sung, or the love stories that never begin because we are afraid to share what is inside us.

2) Poverty is much different than the images we often see

Growing up the images of poverty I was often exposed to consisted of African babies with distended stomachs and flies on their face. These hopeless scenes of desperation left me feeling disconnected and overwhelmed. I have to admit, I changed the channel.

In sharp contrast the time I have spent in AIDS clinics, refugee camps, orphanages and impoverished communities around the world has offered me a richer perspective of poverty. I have seen laughter, joy intelligence and hope in the eyes, words and actions of individuals living in some of the most difficult conditions on earth.

Most importantly I have seen myself in these individuals, our similarities and common humanity far outweighing our differences. With this recognition everything changes, the unfairness of it all really begins to sink in. The idea that our fate on this planet is a product of some sort of geographical lottery takes root. You begin to wrestle with the reality that something as random as your latitude and longitude will determine if you get clean water to drink, learn how to read and how long you will live.

In this moment of realization as these feelings begin to wash over you it becomes impossible to ignore this tremendous injustice. Outraged and defiled by your own wealth you feel compelled to act. Do something, anything.

3) Our small actions can literally change the course of people’s lives

We don’t need to quit our job, give away all our material possessions or travel to Africa and join a missionary to create more equality in the world. In reality there are very few examples of extraordinary accomplishments achieved by the actions of a single individual trying to do it all.

Instead change comes from adjusting our focus and expanding our circle of compassion to include the goodness of all humanity. The idea of universal happiness is such an alluring prospect, so consistent with our innate sense of right and wrong that we need to simply act on impulse to better the world.

Through the small actions of several hundred individuals Building Walls of Wisdom has been able to build classrooms for over 500 students since 2009.
Outside of some remarkable organizations that have overseen the construction of these schools none of us have made this our single focus in life. Rather the average person has made a relatively small investment ($100 dollars) into funding these projects.

With each contribution we have been able to change the trajectory of people’s lives and move closer to a world in which all humanity can afford freedom, basic living standards and an education.

4) I sometimes wonder who has received the greatest gift?

Spending time visiting with individuals living in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable is a source of inspiration, gratitude and alters your perspective of what it means to be human.

Witnessing people walk kilometers for water, build homes with their own hands and cultivate food from arid soil gives you a sense of how much effort they need to devote to simply survive. These scenes unlock a tremendous feeling of gratitude for all the things we take for granted. This experience offers you a new lens to view the world and gives you some perspective the next time you have a “problem” or challenge to deal with.

Visiting the schools, seeing the children in class and hearing about the difference a new building and some desks have made awakens part of your soul. It is in these moments full of hope and inspiration that you believe with every fiber of who you are that this type of poverty is preventable. That your life has made some tangible difference, that the world is in some small way better because you were here and that together we can create a world that we are proud to live in.

Thank you to the entire Building Walls of Wisdom community it is exciting to think about all we have accomplished in just four years.

Comments

  • What an insightful & touching reflection Geoff. It’s nice to know you are able to visit some of the projects you have created and seen your dreams take fruit. Long may it continue and grow.

    Rick WilmotNovember 6, 2013

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