Nick Whitney of Peabody is a senior in architecture at Kansas State University. He is spending the spring semester as an architectural intern in, of all places, Uganda, a country in east-central Africa.
When Nick was exploring internship possibilities, he discovered Engineering Ministries International, a nonprofit Christian organization that offers free design services to other Christian organizations in the developing world.
The organization helps design hospitals, orphanages, churches, schools, and water systems.
Nick was required to raise $7,500 for his trip to Africa. People who heard of his mission gave generously, and a large gift from Aulne United Methodist Church made up the remaining deficit.
Nick was sent to Uganda to help design a campus for children involved in Music For Life, a group of African children’s choirs. Their current boarding school is in a cramped, five-story building in a “bad” neighborhood in Kampala.
The new campus is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. When it is complete, it will include a nursery school, choir-training center, assembly hall, administration hall, classrooms, dining hall and kitchen for 300, dormitories, headmaster’s house, staff housing units, and football field.
Choirs of various ages, trained at the academy, travel on yearlong tours to the U.S., where their performances raise money for charitable causes in Africa. One choir performed in Hillsboro last year.
Whitney said he never thought he could connect his architectural skills with a Christian mission.
In his blog site on the Internet, nickinafrica.wordpress.com, he wrote: “I have been given the opportunity to use my architectural skills and talents to enrich the lives of the physically and spiritually poor. It’s such a great opportunity to make a difference.”
He also is being exposed to an entirely different way of life. He said buildings in the villages and cities are dilapidated, children play barefoot outdoors, and street gutters are filled with rubbish.
Despite all that, he said, people are satisfied with what they have and their children radiate carefree happiness. To them, their homes provide everything they require.