Randi Hedin.
Image provided by Randi Hedin

Randi Hedin remembers staying in a remote village in Senegal in 2013. The village was in the midst of a desert-like environment with little vegetation around. The schoolhouse was a small hut made of millet. It was very dark inside the classroom with no windows, so teachers often took their students outside to the few available trees to learn with light and shade.

One morning, Hedin came upon some cows munching on the school. She was surprised and snapped a few pictures. She asked her host family about it later.

“They said, ‘Yeah, between the animals and the rains that come during the rainy season, this is the problem they have with their school,’” Hedin recalls.

This is where Hedin’s work with buildOn comes in. Hedin was in Senegal because the nonprofit was building a new school in the village, one that would not have to be rebuilt after every rainy season or every time a cow got hungry.

buildOn works in seven countries around the world, as well as in the U.S., to build schools in collaboration and coordination with the local ministries of education and community leaders. So far, the organization has built 1,323 schools internationally. For Hedin, the work buildOn does aligns with her belief that education is the foundation for opportunity.

“In a house or in a school, it’s the foundation, and I firmly believe that, and once armed with that I think there are a lot of opportunities that open up,” she says.

Read the full story about Randi Hedin, Director on the National Board of buildOn by Arielle Dreher at Global Washington.