Student Spotlight / Brittany Young

Sophmore Brittany Young, founder of A Spring of Hope  Photo credit: Peter Tobia

HOPE SPRINGS: Florida-native and Penn sophmore Brittany Young, 19, established A Spring of Hope, a non-profit organization that builds wells in rural African communities, in 2005 after visiting Limpopo, South Africa, on vacation with her mother.

TEACHABLE MOMENT: Although on vacation, Young says her mother wanted to introduce her to the abject poverty in the area. She had the lodge where they were staying contact a private transportation company, which took them to Beretta Primary, a large school in Acornhoek, South Africa.

EYES WIDE OPEN: Young says the poverty she saw at Beretta was “an extremely moving experience and so unlike anything I had ever seen.” The school housed around 1,200 students—about 100 to each classroom—and had no running water.

WADE IN THE WATER: Young and her mother developed a relationship with Leanette Sithole, the principal of Beretta, and spoke with her about the school’s struggles. They asked Sithole what single addition they could provide that would have the greatest impact on the school, and she replied, “Water.”

LIQUID-ITY: With water on the brain, Young returned home and began soliciting donations from her classmates for a Beretta well fund. By January of 2006, Young had raised $6,000, which her parents nearly matched to bring the total to $10,000. In May of 2006, A Spring of Hope built Beretta Primary its much-needed water well.

BACK TO AFRICA: Young has returned to Beretta since the well was installed and has noticed tangible changes at the school during each visit. The Beretta garden, which would usually die in the winter rainless season, has flourished. “I guess weeds are now a problem, which is great,” she says. The school is preparing to enter the national school garden competition.

WATER WORKS: Young says Sithole told her, “The water brought us motivation that we never had before.” The Beretta choir won a prestigious provincial award and the athletic teams are now competitive.

ALL WELLS: A Spring of Hope has built eight wells so far, seven in South Africa and one in Uganda. Young says each well costs around $10,000. The nonprofit was recently awarded $130,000 from Chase Community Giving, funds that Young says will go towards building five more wells before the end of the year. Two have already been completed.

MISSION STATEMENT: Asked about her future plans, Young says, “A Spring of Hope never goes away. It is my life’s endeavor.”

LEND A HAND: To donate to A Spring of Hope, visit www.aspringofhope.org.

Originally published on November 11, 2010