Thursday, January 29, 2009

Introducing a new charity to help schools and buld wells in togo

We learned of a new not for profit charity that aims to build schools and wells in West Africa. Leaping Stone was started by Natalie Huberman and her husband Robert, after a visit to the West African nation of Togo broke her heart and moved her to help.

More information on the non profit can be found at their website Leaping Stone Org, Natalie also runs a blog on the site and there are links to make donations.

We discovered the charity through this write up in the Chico News Review by Robert Speer.

Only when they visited West Africa, though, did Natalie Huberman discover the cause she now says she will be pursuing for the rest of her life. “It hit me like a ton of bricks” is how she describes the moment when she understood her new purpose. “It wasn’t until I got to West Africa that my heart was slammed.”

The result, many months later, is a new international philanthropic organization, LeapingStone, based in Chico and with her as president.

Huberman had witnessed poverty before, but nowhere had she seen it in tandem with such desire for better lives. Unlike the Mentawai, who though poor were happy and wanted to preserve their traditional way of life by avoiding modern society, the people of West Africa craved development.

The group’s mission is simple enough: “Providing quality, sustainable primary education for girls and boys in West Africa.” Huberman has no intention of stopping at Dédéké. She wants to build schools throughout West Africa—and put in water wells, too.

She’s been in touch with Ron Reed, the Chico attorney who is personally funding a project to dig some 40 wells in Tanzania and, just as important, set up a system that trains and pays for workers to maintain the wells. Huberman says she hopes to work with him in the future.

She and her board members, aware that building classrooms is pointless if the buildings aren’t maintained, have incorporated similar sustainability efforts in their proposal.

Their immediate goal is to have the buildings up by the end of this year. With Dédéké residents providing much of the labor, construction will cost $30,000 to $40,000, “not that much, really,” as Huberman says. In an effort to acquaint Chicoans with her project and drum up donations, she gave a slide presentation during the King Day ceremony on Jan. 18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, and she continues to talk to various groups to enlist their support.

It’s a big job. She says she spends at least four hours a day on it. Her husband, she says, is very supportive, though she likes to joke that it’s all his fault, since he was the person who led her to explore such places as West Africa.


Natalie said...

The name of the charity is LeapingStone.

Kale said...

I'm very sorry for the error Natalie. We now have it corrected. Please let us know if we can do anything to help spread the word of your cause.

LeapingStone said...

Hey Kale, I wanted to let you know where we are today. We started raising funds in January 2009. We now have $25,000 in the bank. We need to raise another $10,000 to start the building of the school. We hope to be able to do this by January 2010.
We have teamed up with an NGO in Togo that is meeting with the villagers of Dedeke on a monthly basis. They are learning to form committees. They are being taught banking and budgeting as well as ways to market the excess produce they grow. They are working with them on income-generating skills such as soap making. This way, once the school is built, they will have the means to support it.
We are pushing hard to raise the $10,00 so we can start the school. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
Natalie Huberman
President LeapingStone