LSA senior Dory Gannes has an unusual spring break destination.
While many University students are lying on the beach, Gannes will be meeting with contractors in the impoverished East African nation of Tanzania.
Gannes will use money she raised this year to build an orphanage in one of the world’s poorest nations.
Gannes started the Olevolos Project last year to raise money to open an orphanage for 250 children living in the northeastern village of Olevolos.
Like the rest of the AIDS-ravaged nation, Olevolos has many orphans who lost their parents to the virus.
So far Gannes has raised just over $15,000, but she hopes to raise $75,000 to buy the land and build the orphanage.
She heralded the generosity of donors.
“It has been unreal, the community support.” Gannes said.
This will not be Gannes’s first trip to Tanzania.
After exploring parts of the continent on a safari with her mother when she was 8, Gannes returned to Africa after her sophomore year to teach English to children in Tanzania with a program called Cross-Cultural Solutions, a group that sends volunteers to communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Russia.
“I wanted to put myself out there, in an uncomfortable situation, where I would learn a lot,” Gannes said. “After I saw the place, I considered it my obligation to show (others) what I had seen.”
Last summer, she went back.
She raised money from family and friends to donate chickens and built coops in three areas in Tanzania.
Gannes said the chickens are a gift has kept on giving since she left Africa.
She will show a documentary about some of the work she has done at a fundraiser tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.
The event will feature performances by MannaFest, a rock group, and the percussion ensemble Groove as well as a silent auction of sports memorabilia.
Gannes plans on taking the money she raises from the sale of $25 tickets with her when she returns to the village next week, where she will meet with contractors to plan for the construction of the orphanage.
Gannes has also begun to learn Swahili in preparation for a planned four-month stay in Tanzania after she graduates in May.