International Development

Making A Career In Social Entrepreneurship by Lucas Turner

Earlier this year, I was interviewed by Unite 4 Good, which is an online global community of socially conscious leaders & entrepreneurs. I spoke about everything from studying social entrepreneurship in college, to hustling to make key connections, to living and traveling abroad to the developing world with incredible organizations, to working with inspiring youth from all over the world. Read the entire article here at  Unite 4 Good

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Selfies in Senegal by Lucas Turner

I am bursting with happiness to be back in the field with buildOn as I prepare for the Clemson Circle of Sisterhood trek team to arrive in Senegal! 🙌🌍

Words cannot describe how amazing it is to live in a village full of so much energy, culture and tradition. Trek is not your typical "voluntourism" - we live in the homes of the villagers, share meals together, work side by side and live life together. It is a fully immersive experience and when we leave, we leave as family full of emotion, memories and love. Everyone is on a level playing field - regardless of age, gender, nationality, skin color, etc.

So, before you judge my selfies and photos with these kiddos and the community, and tell me that I am objectifying them, or that I am putting myself on a pedestal as a white savior or saint, listen up. I am no saint. I am just a guy that happens to work internationally and likes to have fun while doing it. Last night, I led a community-wide meeting of over 50 people to prepare for our team's arrival. It was full of excitement, dancing, questions and pure curiosity. At the end, the whole community and myself took many photos and it was a riot. We had the time of our lives taking selfies, looking at the photos immediately as they were taken and we laughed our butts off. You can't tell me that I am doing something wrong by doing that. There have been many times I have been self conscious of posting photos of myself and the community's I work in because of judgmental critics. Well, those days of being hesitant are over because we are all humans, we all have joy and to be honest, selfies are fun and one hell of a good way to break the ice.

So, look at the joy on these kiddos faces. That joy is real and genuine. My hope and purpose for my photos are to show everyone the real and genuine side of working internationally. Hell, the genuine side of living for that matter. Also, I want to give you a glimpse into what I do. Believe it or not, Africa is a continent, not a country, and there are millions of people living life to the fullest that are incredibly happy. 🌍

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From the Field: Verose's Story by Lucas Turner

Now that I am beginning to read and write, I am realizing my potential as a leader and want to ensure that no children in our village have to miss out on their dreams.
— Verose Fortil, La Glace Village, Haiti

The school building worksite in Haiti can be a tough and chaotic place. There are endless hours of digging, mixing concrete by hand, and passing hundreds of heavy rocks. But every morning when our team showed up to start construction, Verose was the first to jump into the action and pass us a shovel. Her grit, determination and leadership were contagious, despite a lifetime of challenges.

“Anything a man can do, women can do,” she explained, recalling her recent separation from her husband. During their marriage, Verose was solely expected to cook, clean and do all the domestic work with no time to challenge herself outside of the home. Realizing that she was compromising her own happiness, she initiated the split. But it was not an easy task in her village, where it has traditionally been unheard of for a woman to stand up for herself.

But that started to change when buildOn arrived last year to build the first of two schools. One of the first steps in constructing a buildOn school is for the community to elect a Project Leadership Committee made up of equal numbers of men and women. Verose jumped at the opportunity to participate and has since taken on a leadership role in her village’s committee.

I asked her about her role within the Project Leadership Committee while we dug the new school’s foundation. She giggled, “Well I do a little bit of everything; there is never a task too big for me.” Some of her duties have included overseeing the operations of the current school, finding land to build on, and coordinating material deliveries for the construction.

Verose is also sending her son and daughter to school and attending classes herself through buildOn’s Adult Literacy Program four nights a week. At 48, Verose worried that it might be too late to learn, but reassured herself, “I go anyway, because education is only going to make my life better. My parents refused to send me to school when I was young because they needed my help with farming, and I missed out on my dream of becoming a dressmaker. Now that I am beginning to read and write, I am realizing my potential as a leader and want to ensure that no children in our village have to miss out on their dreams.”

The fact that La Glace Village is building a second school within one year is due to exceptional leadership, a commitment to providing every child an education and an amazing ability to rally the entire community around the school – qualities that Verose personally embodies.

Verose and her daughter, Arousslande, age 12.

Verose, age 48, is attending school for the first time.

Asked what advice she had for the girls of the village, Verose shared some wise words and her hope for the village’s future: “Our girls need to focus on their studies and work hard for their chosen profession, but so do our boys. Everyone, regardless of gender should take advantage of their education, so in the future, missing out on schooling is not even an option. It takes both men and women working together to ensure that.”

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The mission of buildOn is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. During my recent month in Haiti, our buildOn team helped break ground on a new school in the village of La Glace. Verose's story embodies the spirit of International Women’s Day and buildOn’s work to empower women across the globe. To get involved with buildOn, go to www.buildon.org