Members of the Movement:Qais Feroz & Rafee Al Mansur

At buildOn, we celebrate the creative and adventurous steps that members of the buildOn movement take to support education and service at home and abroad. Our “Members of the Movement” series highlights the vital work these supporters are doing to help empower youth and end the education crisis.

In the Islamic faith, you’re rewarded for doing good deeds, and typically, those good deeds end when your life ends. But there are three exceptions to this rule: you can have a righteous son or daughter who prays for you, provide a recurring charity, or give a recurring piece of knowledge. Like a school.

Qais Feroz first learned about buildOn through his work as an engineer with SolarCity. When he heard about the SolarCity GivePower Foundation — which brings sustainable solar power to buildOn constructed schools—he was inspired to get involved. One night over dinner with his longtime friend Rafee Al Mansur, Qais mentioned wanting to raise money to build a school. By the end of the meal, Rafee was convinced that he wanted to be a part of it too, and they’ve been working towards their goal ever since.

Qais and Rafee both grew up in Maryland and became friends while attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Inspired by their own love of learning and Muslim faith, they formed a friendship that has involved service and education from the start. In college, they launched a tutoring program in Baltimore City Schools to help kids follow their dreams of starting careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). And from there, a seed was planted that would grow into their involvement with buildOn.

24967499723_60c4c10f80_kGirls in Senegal attending class in a dark, crowded school made from grass and mud. The school Qais and Rafee are building will provide children like these a proper place to learn.

Qais and Rafee are committed to raising $30,000 by this the end of this year to build a school in Senegal. West Africa has a rich history of education, but there is a huge deficit and need for primary education. This disparity, and buildOn’s success in this part of the world, is one of the factors that helped them choose Senegal as the site of their school.

“At the end of the day, every change that we make is going to be something small. But when you have a school full of young, inspired individuals, they’re going to create something much bigger than you know,” says Qais. “So when you give them the tools, the books, the hammers, the nails, and the basic skills, they can solve their own problems. They’re not going to need us.”

“It sounds a lot like sustainability,” says Rafee. “You’re providing an essential building block that kids wouldn’t be able to achieve in life without getting this information. You can’t really put a price tag on the value this would have.”

Qais and Rafee will be joining buildOn in Senegal to help with the school’s construction, and they hope to help install solar power at the new school through the SolarCity GivePower Foundation. You can follow their journey and contribute to their campaign at their buildOn fundraising page.