STORIES FROM THE HEART / Day 4 - FILLING THE GAP (an essay by guest writer Skyler Badenoch)

Friends and blog readers,

I constantly ask myself, how do we fill the opportunity gap that exists throughout the world?  I've heard the statement, 'Intelligence and ability are equally distributed throughout the world, but opportunity is not,' many times, and I've come to believe that this is true.  The brave people that I've met on my trips to isolated rural communities in Haiti, Nicaragua, Mali, Malawi, and Nepal have led me to this conclusion; as have my numerous visits to inner-city high schools in Philadelphia, the Bronx and Harlem, as well as right here in Washington, DC.  I am an employee and ardent supporter of buildOn, an international organization that works to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectation through education and service.  While abroad, I have met rural villagers who will go to great lengths in order to access education; and I have spoken to urban high school teens here in the United States who have stepped forth and made positive change through their contribution of thousands of hours of community service by working directly with the disabled and homeless, the elderly and veterans, and small children.

I believe that there is a common bond between urban youth attending struggling high schools in the United States and individuals living in extreme poverty in the developing world.  I believe that both groups are filled with individuals who possess remarkable intelligence and ability, but who lack opportunities to make a difference in their own lives.  For this reason buildOn connects urban youth from U.S. high schools with communities in developing nations, and facilitates more than 250 students to travel overseas where they held to build schools in some of the most impoverished villages in the world. It’s a two-week experience that is transformative for both the students and the villagers.

Last month, buildOn was featured in The Week Magazine as their 'charity of the week.'  While we love the press, I’ve never once thought of buildOn as a charity; really, I see it as a powerful movement made up of thousands of high school students, villagers, donors, dedicated staff, and inspirational leaders who are passionate about making the most out of the opportunity to improve communities, increase access to education, and inspire the next generation of leaders here in the U.S. and abroad.

We are actively recruiting new people to join the buildOn movement in Philadelphia, The Bronx, Norwalk, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, and the Bay Area. Check out this video, visit my photos at Flickr ( ttps:// or visit us at or on facebook, if you would like to join this unstoppable movement. 

Please, please think about becoming part of buildOn, and consider all the positive changes you would make throughout the world.


Skyler Badenoch,
Developement Director, buildON


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