This is a story that started when Makorobondo Kamongwa Salukombo ’12 was forced by war to flee his childhood home in the Democratic Republic of Congo when he was 12 years old. “Dee,” as we’ve all come to know him, and his family settled in Lakewood, Ohio, which became his new hometown, and he thrived there. But he never forgot Kirotshe, the village where he was born.
This summer, thanks to his personal dedication and a prestigious $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace organization, Salukombo will return to Kirotshe with the resources to create a technology-learning center and bring new educational opportunities to his homeland.
With a program titled “Project Kirotshe,” Salukombo intends to bring peace and prosperity to his former home by making educational opportunities available to the entire community.
“After many interviews with school officials, parents, and students,” Salukombo says, “it is evident that even though the Congolese are working together to make the educational change that is needed to bring peace in the country, there is an immense lack of learning resources to make this effort successful.”
With a goal of providing 30 to 50 computer workstations, complete with Internet access, Salukombo hopes to give the people of his village access to the global community and the chance to extend their educational resources far beyond the Kirotshe borders.
He has enlisted the aid of people across the world, from Ohio to the Congo, to help with his vision, including Dr. Kubuya, the head doctor of the province of Nord-Kivu, whose hospital will provide the internet access in exchange for time on the computers and training for their employees; the Kirotshe Department of Education; and some personal friends and relatives in Congo who are committed to the success of this project.
Salukombo is not shy about asking for help. Or donations. He is working with several people to secure contributions for the equipment, facilities, and manpower to put everything together. He’s even working to find donated solar panels to mitigate occasional power shortages.
This is not Salukombo’s first effort on behalf of his village. He has a track record of success with this sort of thing. Last summer, he ran 120 miles, from Granville to Lakewood, in three days and raised $9,000 to help build a school in Kirotshe.
Seeing the impact of the school in his hometown just made Salukombo eager to help even more. “Having helped in building the school, I want to be part of changing the lack of educational resources that slows education and peace in my village.” He says, “Hopefully, the Learning Center will open closed doors for people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Meanwhile, Salukombo also has achieved another remarkable, and more literal, track record of success. He just set a new Denison record in the 5,000-meter event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 14:21.20 — a strong finish that earned him third place in the national meet, as well as his fifth career All-American honor.
The Davis Projects for Peace organization extends invitations to undergraduates at American colleges and universities that are members of the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer of 2012. The projects judged to be the most promising and do-able are funded at $10,000 each. The objective is to encourage and support today’s motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace.
Follow these links to view PDFs of previous Denison winners of Davis Projects for Peace grants: