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Wednesday, August 21,2013

OU grad goes to Uganda to work on school restoration project


Photo Caption: Taylor D'Onofrio surrounded by children in Uganda.

Ohio University graduate Taylor D'Onofrio has had quite a summer.

D'Onofrio, a 2013 graduate of OU in political science and anthropology, just wrapped up an internship in Uganda, working with the The Empower Campaign and its partners in the region.

The Empower Campaign is an Ohio-based nonprofit that sponsors education for orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. D'Onofrio served as president of The Empower OU Student Organization during her time at OU and is currently project manager for EDUCATE Foundation, Inc.

D'Onofrio met with officials at 11 schools in Kamwenge district in western Uganda, and distributed educational materials to Empower-sponsored orphans and vulnerable children throughout the region. D'Onofrio also worked with Empower's partner, UNITE For The Environment, a program of the North Carolina Zoo, to increase environmentally based education in the area. 

UNITE's goal is to provide conservation education to schools in western Uganda while promoting environmentally sound attitudes, knowledge and skills of people living in the area.

Empower has been partnering with women's cooperatives and other groups in Uganda since 2006, but recently established a new collaboration with UNITE, thanks in large part to D'Onofrio's efforts. Over the next few years Empower and UNITE will raise funds to complete construction on 11 schools in the region as part of The Kamwenge Partnership.

"I saw the 11 schools. I went to each one and sat on the benches that these children sit on," D'Onofrio said of her experiences, in a news release. "I saw the floors (they) walk on in their bare feet, the cracked roofs that support the walls around them and the dilapidated latrines they use, and these were only the schools that actually had walls. I felt and experienced what it is like to be a student in these schools and I know one thing – they deserve better. They need a clean and safe environment to learn and thrive in. Education is the only way to foster confidence and create progress. If we all work together, I am confident that we can paint a brighter future for Uganda."

Individuals can become monthly sponsors of the children Empower serves online at
. Empower also sells Ugandan jewelry, scarves and crafts to support their projects at

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