We blogged about our annual buildOn Breakfast, and live-tweeted the Chicago event. Now you can read the speech from Brittni Pratt, a junior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, about how being a part of buildOn gave her the confidence and motivation to break the cycle of poverty in her own life:
Life, from as early as I can remember, has been tough.
In fifth grade I transferred from a pretty decent school, to a school that was in a community full of gangs. There I learned that the only way to make it through life was fighting, having the coolest clothes, partying, drinking, smoking and, yes, even in elementary school, having sex. My mother and father were very protective over me and my sisters, but still only one of my three older sisters was prevented from falling into this trap.
Almost everyone in my family was or is poor. There were so many things that I wanted or needed for school, but my mom couldn’t give them to me or my sisters. I thought to myself, if I could find someone to help my family like they do on TV, like winning the lottery or rebuilding my family’s home, it would be a miracle. I wished there was some way I could end the poverty that I saw.
By the time I was in 7th grade, I knew that something was wrong with this life. I am quite different from the people in the neighborhoods I was raised in, and even different from my family. And, since entering high school and joining buildOn, life has gotten better.
Initially, I became involved with buildOn because I needed service learning hours, but I’m so glad I did. It has always been my dream to help people, but I never really knew how to do it in my situation. I wanted to improve people’s lives, but who was I? I was a shy girl who didn’t have the guts to go out and take action… until I became a part of buildOn.
buildOn has made such a huge impact on my life from the beginning. After years of seeing poverty ruin the lives of people in my neighborhood who could have been anything, after living in an environment where dreams didn’t come true, I was beginning to believe that I could do the unthinkable: that I could end poverty. I know it seems totally impossible and there are millions and millions of people living in poverty, but buildOn taught me that if you are able to get people to believe in your dream, it is very possible for you to do it.
The service I was doing with buildOn was changing people’s lives; whether in senior citizens homes, tutoring children, showing peers how to contribute to their community, or building a school. It has all made me a better person. Through buildOn I even had the chance to build a school in Nepal. In my mind this experience was something that could only happen to lucky or rare people. But when I was chosen for the trip my whole world changed. I had never been out of the country before and the best part was that I was building a school!
By building a school I was providing education for people at huge level. I learned the effect of education on health and poverty. I felt that I was really changing the world brick-by-brick. I was changing women and girls’ lives. While I was in Nepal with my host family, I saw one of my sisters, named Surut Chaudhary. She worked hard every day as a second mother to her family and she wasn’t even older than me! I saw the strength she had at an early age and knew she could become something great if only there was a better school for her. When I was building the school, I was thinking about her and how she could grow up and help end the problems in her village. I still keep her in my mind, always as a lesson of hard work and dedication.
My involvement in buildOn is one of my biggest and important accomplishments in life. I now see life as a beautiful thing; not a time of pain and doubts and failures, but a time for chances, opportunities, and happiness. buildOn shows and gives me strength to be who I am today and that is a defender of peace and as I would love to say, a humanitarian.
Take a look at buildOn’s past and future events.