As told by Josh Sanders and Ricky Bartlett
It all started with one woman's spring break mission trip to a remote village in Kenya in 2010. Allison Jacobs, the faculty advisor for Georgia State University's Beta Mu chapter of Beta Alpha Psi was inspired when she saw what an extremely positive contribution her small mission group made in just a week's time. She couldn't help but wonder what a large and willing group could do when given adequate time to plan and execute a large-scale global service project.
When Allison returned to Atlanta she had no problem getting the student leadership team excited about the idea of expanding their community service reach across oceans and continents. The chapter was already involved in various service projects from park cleanups to tax preparation assistance, but they wanted to do something unique, something meaningful.
They knew they wanted to get involved with a project in Kenya, but there were still many unanswered questions. Where would they start? How could they help? Who should they help? The leadership team decided to draw on their greatest resource for ideas: their members. As luck would have it, a Beta Mu member's sister was the director of healthcare policy and finance for Imbako Public Health, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 that focuses on reducing poverty and its effects by addressing disparities in healthcare and education facing women and children in African countries. The Beta Mu chapter quickly formed a bond with Imbako founded on a mutual desire to make a positive impact. In 2010, Allison Jacobs, together with the then BAP president Winifred Akande, met with Irene Okech to discuss a collaboration that would alleviate disparities in education faced by the girl child in rural Kenya. On that day, the Global Impact Project (GIP) was born.
During the initial meetings with Imbako, the students were shocked to learn that it only costs about $2,000 to send one Kenyan woman to college for four years including all fees and books—a small amount for US families, but a monumental one for women living in rural Kenya. In Kenya, even the most deserving women usually are not afforded the opportunity to go to college. Scholarship, grant, loan, and other financial aid programs available in the United States are nonexistent in Kenya and most rural Kenyans are poor farmers who simply cannot afford to send their children to college. As an added challenge for women, families that can afford to send a child to college, most often elect to send a male because they believe they will see a higher return on investment. Given this information, the initial goal of the Global Impact Project was clear: raise enough money by the end of the semester to send one deserving Kenyan woman to college.
During the fall semester in 2010, Beta Mu had just over 100 members. Each member was encouraged to raise just $50 for the GIP. While the students at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business were busy raising money, Imbako Public Health got to work finding deserving women from the village of Sitatunga who had already been accepted to universities, but lacked the funding necessary to attend. They narrowed down a long list of worthy women to five. At the end of the semester, Beta Mu leadership would review resumes and biographies and vote who would receive the first Global Impact Project scholarship.
If each member raised $50 there would have been enough money to send two women to college, but Beta Mu leadership wanted to be realistic with their goal. Raising $50 was no small feat for some at a university where over half the undergraduate student body receives Pell Grants. BAP members were encouraged to reach out to family and friends, sell baked goods, or even charge for tutoring to raise money for the scholarship fund. A PayPal account was set up to allow for hassle-free donations.
The response from the student members was overwhelming. Never in their wildest dreams did the leaders of BAP or Imbako expect the outpouring of donations they received. When the donation deadline arrived about 3 months later, over $15,000 had been collected. Beta Mu members showed their true dedication to public service and making the world a better place. Because of their efforts, the leadership team did not have to vote for just one woman to receive funding; all five girls could attend college on full scholarships!
Imbako Public Health was thrilled to share the news with the girls and on November 29, 2010 a huge party was thrown in the village of Sitatunga, where the whole community came together to celebrate and share in the excitement. Not only would the women and their families be positively impacted by these educational opportunities, the entire village would benefit. In the long run, educated women create more jobs and revenue for the village, increase its buying power, and help make it a more self-sustaining community.
As of the year, 2013, 13 girls from rural Kenya have been afforded scholarships toward undergraduate education in Kenya, from the GIP scholarships.