Consultants and employees of Rodan + Fields® have continually raised the expectations of what it means to be members of the buildOn movement through the Prescription for Change® Foundation. Over the past three years, they’ve immersed themselves in buildOn’s Service Learning Programs, volunteering alongside buildOn students in four U.S. cities and supporting every program across the country. But as Rodan + Fields® team members Chelsea Ramage and Dr. Tim Falla learned firsthand, buildOn is a global movement with opportunities to make an impact all over the world.
Check out the video below to follow a group of Rodan + Fields® volunteers as they serve globally with buildOn in Malawi, and read on to learn more about the life-changing global service the Rodan + Fields® team experienced in Nepal.
By going on Trek with buildOn, Chelsea and Tim each traveled with other volunteers to one of the economically poorest countries in the world to partner with local community members to construct a new school in a village previously lacking proper educational resources. Chelsea went to Malawi in August 2017 as part of the R+F’s Voices of the Field Trek with four R+F Consultants and their guests, as well as R+F Vice President of U.S. Sales Jeremy Soine and his son. Tim traveled to Nepal in December 2016 with his wife and four children. But unlike other service trips, Trek isn’t a vacation—it’s a chance to experience the impacts of education in a community that historically has no adequate school structure while living with a host family and gaining intimate insight into their culture.
“To experience a Trek firsthand makes me incredibly proud of the work that Rodan + Fields® does with PFC, and just to be a part of that, as a whole community of Consultants and employees, is truly life-changing,” Chelsea explains.
Chelsea, who is the Rodan + Fields® Regional Director for Central Canada, went on Trek with her eleven-year-old son Noah. Chelsea and her PFC team were so successful in their fundraising, they not only funded building a school, but also supported three adult literacy programs in Malawi. “It really was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I know that Noah will too,” Chelsea says. “Being able to experience that with my son made me realize that we really owe it to the world to continue to contribute and be of service to others—buildOn is providing a way to do that, which is fantastic.”
By living with a host family in Malawi, working side-by-side with local community members on the building site and participating in cultural workshops, Chelsea and Noah grew close to the local community. For Chelsea, one of the most meaningful aspects of Trek was the bond fostered with community members. “What I took away is that as a people, sitting with the village in Malawi, we’re a lot more alike than we are different,” Chelsea explains. “We all have dreams, and hopes for our children and their futures.”
For Tim, R+F’s Vice President of Research and Development, that sense of community was created on the construction site. “Once you start working, there’s a common language. When you stand next to someone and pass giant rocks down the line, you kind of develop a relationship with people on either side of you,” Tim recalls. “And, when it comes to lifting a rock and passing it down the line, it doesn’t really matter what you look like or what clothes you’re wearing. You’re all in it together.”
Tim and his wife Lucy were originally attracted to the idea of going on Trek when they learned that buildOn schools ensure gender equality in their classrooms. Before breaking ground on a buildOn school, every partner community signs the buildOn Covenant—a document from the community promising to send an equal number of girls to school as boys.
The experience of building a school with community members in Nepal was so powerful for Tim and Lucy that the two of them have raised the funds to build another school in October 2017, this time in Malawi. For Tim, donating to a nonprofit is one thing, but immersing in buildOn’s mission on Trek was another. “I think when it comes to buildOn, if you simply write a check you’re missing out on such a large part of what buildOn does. Seeing [the impact of buildOn’s programs] really does enable you to understand how the money or time you may have given actually impacts a community,” Tim explains. “It empowers you to do more.”
Chelsea also would like to go on another Trek in the future, and she encourages anyone thinking about participating in Trek to do it. “Absolutely go,” Chelsea says. “It’s normal to have fears about what the experience will be like, but you just can’t prepare for how incredibly life-changing the experience truly is.”
The PFC Change Maker Trek program is an international service experience for R+F Independent Consultants and Employees and is still under development. Program announcements and eligibility will be available in 2018, with treks departing in 2019. Sign up here to receive information as soon as it becomes available.