DELRAN — Who would have thought a group of students here could build a school or medical center for the people of Uganda without leaving the township?
Over the next few months that’s what the students and staff from Delran High School plan to do as they transform a shipping container into a facility that can be used a world away.
On Thursday the students learned firsthand what the project will mean to the people of the African nation.
“This is very, very important because we have been in a war for the last 22 years in Northern Uganda and most of the social infrastructures were destroyed,” said Francis Nyang, who spoke to students about his homeland.
“Our schools were destroyed. Our hospitals were destroyed and it takes time to rebuild, so we thought the containers would be a supplement to that and help rebuild Northern Uganda,” said Nyang, who has spent years working to bring aid to his war-ravaged country.
The school teamed with the Denver-based nonprofit organization Homes of Living Hope to take on the project as part of a new “Do It Yourself” course being offered to students.
“Basically we connect communities through service. Using a shipping container, we repurpose them to be medical clinics, educational facilities, dorm rooms for orphanages and send them to the Third World,” said Bart Wear, executive director for Homes of Living Hope.
Brian Stolarick, the district’s supervisor of humanities, credited Superintendent Patricia Camp for suggesting the program after seeing a similar project done at school in Somerset County.
“We’re hoping it spills over to other clubs and the community,” Stolarick said of the effort needed to complete the project. “We’re not just building a chair… It’s going to be a school or a medical facility.”
Teacher Pete Miles said he and the students can’t wait to get started.
“We already have 80 to 90 kids signed up for this,” Miles said. “I hope it goes well, the students learn something new and also be able to help out the people of Uganda. They’ve had a very difficult time for years.”
The conversion of the shipping container into a useable facility complete with plumbing, electrical and other infrastructure will take some time to complete.
“A project like this we would build it through the school year and then ship it,” Wear said. “Depending on where it’s going it could take four to six months to get there.”
While shipping the container to Africa takes months, setting up the new facility can be done in a matter of hours.
And in no time the line of patients will be out the door and down the street.
“When we open and cut the doors and windows (out) and advertise to the community this is a clinic and they come and get treatment from this container, it’s like a miracle to them,” Nyang said. “For so many years people get herbs and leaves to treat (medical conditions).”
Seventeen-year-old David Dallman III said he looks forward to lending a hand.
“I really want to get involved in this, mainly because it’s really hard to think about what they do in their community and I really want to help them out,” he said.