In 2012, 16-year-old David Curtiss traveled to Uganda on a short-term mission trip. Little did he know, that visit would ignite a passion of service to others.
“This was my first international trip. I taught Vacation Bible School, assisted with painting churches and distributed medical and school supplies,” recalled the Los Angeles native.
“But, after witnessing the horrific living conditions, I left Uganda with a heavy heart. When I returned home, I desperately wanted to continue to make a difference in the lives of others, especially the children in Uganda, who could not afford to attend school.”
Exploring his options, Curtiss decided to take action on his own by founding the Building Hope Project. The non-profit partnered with United Gospel Outreach and Agape Global Mission in Uganda to sponsor one meal a day, tuition, scholastic needs, and spiritual counsel to 46 children and their families every semester.
“Many of these children are orphans with no one to turn to. I want to make a difference in their lives by motivating individuals, churches and community organizations to help educate these forgotten children,” said Curtiss.
“All around the world, especially in developing nations, you can see the apparent link between education and prosperity, as well as ignorance and poverty. Although the majority of children in Uganda initially enroll for primary school, almost half must drop out before their culmination into secondary school due to lack of funds,” he explained.
“Children in Uganda who do not receive an education are much more likely to live in poverty for the rest of their lives and their life expectancy is drastically stunted. This is the reality - where there’s no education, there’s very little chance of hope.”
To raise funds to sponsor the children, Curtiss reaches out to individuals, schools and churches for supplemental donations. A $180 contribution covers the academic, administrative, and spiritual costs as well as meals for one child for one year.
“However, there are many other costs needed to keep this project running and a financial gift of any size is greatly needed and appreciated. We ask people to please give what they can to help, and whatever they give, please do so out of love,” said Curtiss.
His desire to help others likely stemmed from his parents and grandparents, proprietors of the Word of Life Christian Bookstores. They also operate the United Gospel Outreach non-profit that provides a range of community services in South Los Angeles.
A 2014 graduate of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Curtiss believes God wants to prepare him for a life of global service. He recently received the 2014 Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Award, a full four-year scholarship at American University in Washington, DC. He begins classes there this fall.
“I plan to major in International Development, which will help fulfill the call of God on my life to bring hope to underdeveloped nations and impact the world to be a better place,” he said.
For information or to donate, visit BuildingHopeProject.org.