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Reed College Davis Winner Hatches Scholarship Plan

Davis Project for Peace winner Desmond Rgwaringesu ’14 hopes to create sustainable funding to aid K-12 students in his homeland of Zimbabwe. With the $10,000 grant, the Reed College student intends to construct a chicken and egg ranch; the proceeds from the enterprise will subsidize the educational needs for school children near the Gokomere Mission.

The project is titled “A Peaceful Mind; A Brighter Future.” Rgwaringesu knows that students who travel the farthest to school each day fair the poorest. Inadequate nutrition and the long walk affects their performance. Tired, hungry, and unable to concentrate, many lose the motivation to finish school and many turn to criminal activities to sustain themselves.

“Experience has taught me that you cannot have peace if you are anxious about the future, if you are stressed, fatigued, or suffer from depression because of lack of agency,” Rgwaringesu wrote. “Your mind is incarcerated in an invisible prison that stifles your imagination.”

To help keep his enterprise sustainable, Rgwaringesu has worked out a contract to supply three schools in the Gokomere area with chickens and eggs. Profits will be used to help pay school fees and lunch for those in need. In addition, 10 bicycles will be loaned to the high school students who travel the farthest each day.

In June, Desmond will build the fowl-run. In July he will purchase 600 broiler chicks for meat production and 300 Hy-line Brown pullets for laying eggs. He had to compute the cost of feed, antibiotics, labor, and supplies, and make allowances for unproductive hens and chickens that die.

“It took me a long time to do all the calculations,” he says. “But the good thing about a liberal arts education is that in being a science major I learned how to do research—this was almost like another research project. I took two economics classes that applied as well and humanities taught me how to express my views. There was no part of my Reed education that I did not use in writing the application paper.”

He plans to leave the operation in the hands of the priests who run the mission schools and estimates that the project will benefit 56 students a year.