Sally Krutzig, News Editor
‘Gracias por su ayuda’
A classroom of students pools its $1 bills and throws its professor in jail. He retaliates and throws the class in as well. In order to get out, the students happily pay another $2 each.
Far away, in the small, Central American country of El Salvador, a student is now able to attend high school.
At the University of Dallas, water guns are shot, immunity masks are worn and assassins hide in bushes.
In El Salvador, a tiny, overcrowded school attended by over 730 students receives two new classrooms.
Each October, the University of Dallas celebrates Charity Week: seven days filled with events such as airband, tuck-ins and Male Auction. As students fork over cash in order to embarrass their friends at bedtime or send sweet Crush Cans, they may not realize where the money goes once it leaves their hands.
This year, approximately $8,000 of the money raised went to The Least Among Us, a non-profit organization that seeks to “[provide] resources that allow children to improve themselves mentally, physically and spiritually.” It helps build schools in developing nations and grants scholarships to children who, without its help, could only dream of an education.
Johnny Nelson, an alumnus of UD and the president of this organization, wants students to realize that just “one or two dollars given during Charity Week matter a whole lot” and hopes “they will be able to see with their own eyes the fruits of their craziness.”
For some students in El Salvador, the thought of being able to receive an education is just as crazy as carrying a kicking Fr. Maguire to jail.
“It’s easy to underestimate the impact the Charity Week money has on thousands of children,” said Nelson.
“These children would otherwise be sitting in the open air, in the hot sun or in a bamboo hut made of sticks and trash bags,” he said.
Nelson felt that UD’s emphasis on thinking outside the box has helped him to think constructively about tackling poverty.
“UD builds independent and critical thinking. This really reflects how we fight poverty,” explained Nelson.“Instead of an organization that gives handouts to people or a direct transfer of funds, we combat poverty preemptively by not fighting the effects of it, but by giving the children goals to strive after.”
The Least Among Us buys raw materials for a community that has demonstrated that it is in need of help. It is then up to the parents, students and teachers to build the school themselves. They are the ones who dig the trenches, lay the cement and put up the beams. When it comes to the electrical work or plumbing, a parent who possesses those skills will often step in to help. Working together for its children gives the community a sense of solidarity and pride in itself.
The Least Among Us seeks to “help children grab the bottom rung of the ladder so that they have a chance to pull themselves the rest of the way up,” he said.
The particular school UD helped is named Pavlo VI. It is located in Nahuizalo, a village about 55 miles from El Salvador’s capital city of San Salvador. The inhabitants are mainly indigenous Salvadorans who still speak their native Nahuatl. This was the first major project The Least Among Us was able to build in a long time. Nelson believes this lack of activity on the part of the organization was due to the economic recession.
“It has been hard to get the money, and UD really helped us get out of that slump and start building again,” he said.
Today, a painted, white sign hangs outside of the little school. “Gracias por su ayuda … Univ. de Dallas,” it reads. The students at this school will most likely never experience the joy of one’s first KAOS kill. They will never know the disappointment of losing a bid to the senior girls at Male Auction. They will never be able high-five the Groundhog on the Mall. However, due to the generosity (and insanity) of UD students during Charity Week, they will receive an education that will give them the ability to read Dante, Homer and Shakespeare. They will be given the tools to study astronomy, theology and economics. In short, they will be given the chance to grow in the knowledge of the good, the true and the beautiful, much as we have at UD.