This summer, two Penn women are bringing first world trends to the third world as part of their placements with the International Internship Program.
Rosa Escandon and Lauren McCann — a rising College junior and rising Wharton sophomore, respectively — are leveraging crowdsourcing and modern sustainability practices to bring a higher quality of life to the students of Kamogelo Orphanage in Mogoditshane, Botswana.
Kamogelo, a school for “orphaned and vulnerable children,” is located about 45 minutes from Botswana’s capital. According to Heather Calvert, associate director of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, the site has hosted interns through IIP for several years.
“Lauren and Rosa have kind of upped the ante on [former interns]. They’ve gone above and beyond,” Calvert said.
After their first week at the orphanage, Escandon and McCann noticed that the 90 enrolled children— who are generally between 2 and 6 years old— were dressed in shoes and uniforms that were “pretty torn up.” For their first task, they contacted corporations and, later, individuals affiliated with Penn until “$6,300 worth of shoes showed up on my doorstep at home,” McCann said.
1963 Wharton graduate Steve Trachtenberg of Bigston Shoes responded to Escandon and McCann’s inquiries by shipping them one pair of shoes for each child.
After receiving a “resounding negative response” from everyone they asked, Escandon and McCann were thrilled — and motivated.
For the remainder of their internship, they focused on raising enough money to cover Kamogelo’s costs for the rest of the year. The pair launched “The Campaign for Kamogelo” with a $25,000 goal on Indiegogo, a crowdsourcing site that is a partner of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
Sherryl Kuhlman, managing director of WSII, said WSII hopes to help students raise funds through Indiegogo for their own social impact internships in the future, although the partnership is still in an early stage.
“I think of this money as a nest egg,” Escandon said. She said the orphanage is forced to skimp on things like vegetables and staff wages in order to reduce the deficit between what is needed and the funding received.
“We really thought that’s no way to run something that really does things for people’s lives,” she explained.
To supplement their fundraising, Escandon and McCann are looking into ways to make the orphanage more sustainable. They are researching solar power — “It’s sunny here all the time,” said McCann— and ways to expand the on-site garden.
“Given that we know that two more Penn students just like us are coming next year … we want to pass the torch of sustainability,” Escandon said. “We want to set the bar higher and higher to expand on something crazy.”
Escandon and McCann realize that their goal is lofty.
“As crazy as it sounds, I don’t think it’s out of our reach,” McCann said.
“I hope it’s not,” Escandon added. “It’s become something much bigger for me than nickels and dimes.”Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.