Second GiveBack KickBack to Benefit African Village

Nov. 14, 2011

Main Gate Square near the University of Arizona campus will rock next Friday night during the second annual GiveBack KickBack event. Live music, arts and crafts booths, a 50/50 raffle and the auctioning off of an all-expense-paid trip to Cancun, Mexico are just a few of the activities for this fundraiser sponsored by the Arizona Refugee Connection (ARC).

The event caps off International Education Week (Nov. 14-18) on the UA campus.

Put together by four teams of first-semester UA Eller College of Management students, GiveBack KickBack will again benefit the School for Abul. Last year’s event netted $16,000 for the project, which went toward the drilling of a well and construction of a school in the village of Abul in Southern Sudan.

Sponsored by the student-run Arizona Refugee Connection (ARC), GiveBack KickBack will be held in the Geronimo Plaza off University Boulevard and Euclid Avenue from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 18, 2011.

Building Skills Through Service

“Arizona Refugee Connection is a great example of how students can build useful skills and experiences while helping their community and those in need,” says Max Goshert, a UA senior majoring in marketing at Eller and ARC’s philanthropy chair. “Working with ARC to help build a school in Abul has been the most challenging yet rewarding thing that I have done so far in my years at the UA.”

University of Arizona graduate John Akuar, a former Lost Boy of Sudan, worked with students from ARC, Dr. Cindi Gilliland, senior lecturer at Eller and the faculty advisor to ARC, area businesses, and members of St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church to organize the fundraising event.

GiveBack KickBack will feature performances by refugee entertainers, a professional DJ, a silent auction, cash raffle, carnival-style games and a variety of booths with items for purchase, including refugee arts and crafts and a specially-designed ARC t-shirt.

Continuing to Construct Community

The proceeds of last year’s event made possible the completion of a well for Abul. Previously, villagers walked 10 miles round-trip each day to reach the nearest stream for water.

Construction of a school is underway, but additional funding will be needed to complete the project. A handful of classrooms have been completed, but many classes are still held in grass huts or under trees. Boys and girls have few books and school supplies to assist them with their studies.

“It is so easy to forget how lucky we are with all of the privileges of modern while others are forced to learn how to read and write using sticks and dirt,” Goshert says.

St. Francis church member, Dr. Art Aldag visited Abul this past summer and saw firsthand both the progress and the work yet to be done to complete the dream of a School for Abul.  

“Our journey through Sudan gave a whole new meaning to the expression ‘one day at a time,’” he says.

Songs of Welcome

Arriving just two days after the birth of the new Republic of Southern Sudan (RSS), Aldag and his group found things in a bit of an uproar and reaching the village of Abul proved to be more challenging than anticipated.

When the group finally arrived at Abul, word spread quickly and the people of the village came out to join them and sing songs of welcome.

“It was an absolutely amazing experience – hard to describe in words – and only understandable by being present,” says Aldag. “The villagers were so happy to see us and meet the people who were helping them get water locally in the village and build the school, which will actually serve several villages in the surrounding area.”

The group immediately made their way to the school, where speeches were made by village elders, local dignitaries, the new school master and the village chief.

“I really wish that the many people who have contributed financially to the Abul Project could have been there to witness the peoples’ gratitude,” Aldag says.

Four classrooms, two administrative offices and a latrine have been completed, but the focus now is on raising the resources needed to finish four remaining classrooms.

“It was clear to each of us from St. Francis that we have to push this project to completion.”

GiveBack KickBack will give the UA and local communities a fun way to contribute toward making that happen.  


GiveBack KickBack Event

Nov. 18, 2011, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Main Gate Square (University and Tyndall Ave., between Park and Euclid Ave.)

Proceeds benefit the School for Abul project and the Arizona Refugee Connection

Learn more about International Education Week and get involved.