In their own words, the Life to Life Building Group, Inc. (LTLBG) is “in the business of providing for people.” The company has been in this business since 2004, when founders Tim Mooney and Eric Brookhart developed, coordinated and ran a program in which high school students traveled to Uganda.
During the day, Mooney is a high school teacher and Brookheart is a firefighter and builder, so it is no surprise that together, the pair believes LTLBG has a dual effect that mirrors its profession. On a concrete level, the company builds schools and housing in poorer African countries. It also seeks to diversify the experience of American high school students.
While the construction of buildings speak for progress, the students must also prove they are ready to go abroad. Volunteers are required to complete an application that includes an essay portion. They must also launch their own fundraising campaign and are expected to pay for the entirety of their journey.
The program began organically, so it was small. It is also tightly run, so efficiency is quick to increase. In summer 2007, the founders led two groups that saw 50 total students build first a secondary school and then housing units. The company has their eyes on partnering with local businesses in Africa in an attempt to give back even more.
Like so many organizations and services that elect to operate and work in Africa, LTLBG is often asked “Why? Why go to Uganda?” One cheeky response is as follows: “How would our local school district react when, full of excitement, we attend a board meeting and announce we have worked to raise $25,000 to build a school? Perhaps we can add more mulch to the playground.” Wit aside, the founders have plenty of reasons to go.
The truth is that rarely do projects come around as organically as this. Subsequent to earning his degree, Mooney worked in Uganda as a missionary for three years, forming long bonds with educators, doctors and leaders of NGOs in the country. After returning home, an individual reached out to Mooney who brought Brookhart on a home building trip.
After several summers of working in Uganda, a class of Mooney’s students came to him and suggested that they be included on the next trip. The next summer they traveled together under the company name.
Even with all this, LTLBG should not feel the need to answer the question as judgment. The Sub Sahara is home to the most disadvantaged individuals in the world and it is one of the most important places in which to build.
– Andrew Rywak