One School founders Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert receiving the International Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of Boulder in February, 2014. (Click to view larger)
The following article by Tyler Abboud and published by the United Nations Association of Boulder is reprinted below with their permission.
On Sunday, February 23, 2014 the United Nations Associationof Boulder County had the honor of hosting Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert of OneSchool at a Time to grant them our annual International Human Rights Award. Chapter President O. Antonio Anduaga Bocanegra welcomed the guests, and he and vice president Bill Kellogg presented Bay and Patty with the International Human Rights Award plaque and a bouquet of flowers. The ceremony was held at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community, followed by refreshments and good conversation.
The audience of over 50 individuals was treated to a presentation by Bay and Patty on their incredible work with schools in Uganda. Bay Roberts did not come from a humanitarian aid background; in fact, prior to founding One School at a Time she was a seabird biologist working in Alaska, a substantially different career field. Bay altered her career path after adopting her first daughter from China sixteen years ago. “After adopting her, I became painfully aware of the struggles kids have all over the world,” she said in an interview. With that struggle in mind, Bay was determined to make a difference. She was deeply moved by the work of Torkin Wakefield (a previous recipient of the award) and BeadforLife another Boulder-based NGO that focuses on Uganda.
BeadforLife connected Bay and Patty to an orphan named Juliet in Uganda who attended an impoverished school in the slums of Kampala. This “school” had 500 students and one textbook, temporary classrooms with no windows and doors, dirt floors, no electricity, no running water, no scholastic materials, no blackboards, no playground, and a staff of poorly trained, inexperienced teachers who frequently were not paid. Bay and Patty were so moved by this situation that they decided to assist in the improvement of Juliet’s school and returned every year to assist others.
The work of One School at a Time is unlike that of most aid organizations. As opposed to simply handing out assistance and leaving without accountability, One School at a Time partners with school stakeholders (staff, teachers, students, parents and local communities) over a period of five years to ensure that they are fully invested in improvements. One of the most difficult but most rewarding parts of the job, Bay noted, was shifting the colonialist mind-set of “you do it for me” to “we can do it ourselves!” This difficult task can be overcome by fostering deep connections with the Ugandan people and by taking the time to listen and put them in charge.
Later on, Bay would adopt Juliet. It was inspiring that Juliet was at the award ceremony to see her mother discuss the great work she does with One School at aTime. It was definitely an International Human Rights Award ceremony to remember and a moving presentation by a great and commendable organization. The work done by One School at a Time is highly inspirational and teaches us in the United States that the value of education is demonstrably limitless. To find out more about One School at a Time, please visit their website.
Here and below: Bay Roberts tells the audience about One School at a Time during the awards presentation.